PHUKET: Topping a long list of highlights in the four days of non-stop surfing and extreme sports action at the Quiksilver Open Phuket Thailand, Bali's Mega Semadhi took out the ASC/ISC Open Division final for his first contest win this year.
Reigning Men's Asian Surfing Champion Raditya Rondi (also from Bali) hoisted his second consecutive ASC Championship trophy as a result of his second place finish behind Semadhi.
''I'm feeling so stoked right now,'' said Semadhi in his post-final interview. ''Actually I'm so tired of getting second, finally I got a first! Pretty stoked, thanks to God, thanks to everyone, the judges and boys, my family and my fiancee. So stoked!''
Samadhi takes home a check for US$1700 plus Asian Surfing Championship and Indonesian Surfing Championship points that will contribute to his rankings in both circuits.
Ronda, who hails from Kuta Beach in Bali was equally stoked with his second consecutive Asian Surfing Championship Men's Open title:
''I'm so proud to be the first Asian Surfing Champion and now to repeat that and win it again is an even bigger honor, I'm so thankful to my family and my sponsor and my friends for supporting me. Thanks also to the ASC for giving us this tour where we can surf and compete around Asia, and come to awesome places like here in Phuket.''
It was a tense and exciting 25 minute Men's Open final with a lot at stake, especially for Raditya Rondi and Lee Wilson, both in the race for the 2012 Coca-Cola Indonesian Surfing Championship title with one event remaining.
If Wilson were to win the Quiksilver Open Phuket, he would win the 2012 Indonesian Championship title, his third.
Anything less and the title wouldn't be decided until next month at the final event in Kuta, Bali, with runner up Rondi still smarting from being narrowly edged out by Marlon Gerber last year.
With the crowd on the beach glued to every surfer's move on every wave coming through in the afternoon sun, Mega jumped out to a commanding lead, consistently launching and landing aerial maneuvers like he was on autopilot.
Both Wilson and Rondi appeared to be feeling the pressure, with Wilson landing an aerial for a 4.5 point score with his first wave and then failing to find anything until near the end of the final, sitting in fourth place for most of the 25 minutes.
Rondi struggled until midway through the heat, when he finally shook off the nerves and banged out a couple of scores to grab third place. Made Darmayasa meanwhile was sitting comfortably in second spot, feeling no pressure and just having fun.
Then it all came down to the final minutes, when Wilson smashed out a 7.0 score on a left hand runner, which got him up into second place and needing a wave score of only 5.3 points to win the contest.
But with just seconds to go before the horn blew Rondi caught his last wave and blasted away.
Everybody on the beach as well as the finalists waited in anticipation for the MC to call out the score, as Rondi needed better than a 6.0 to get into second place ... after about 10 minutes anxiety, the score was announced ... a 6.1!
So Rondi was up into second place, Wilson down into third place, meaning the Indonesian title will be decided at the final contest of the year in Kuta Beach next month.
Quiksilver SEA CEO Paul Hutson was down on the beach watching the action close up, and couldn't have been happier.
''Can you believe all the drama in this final, it's crazy,'' he exclaimed. ''The boys were absolutely ripping out there. Did you hear all the cheering up in the stands and on the beach?
''I have to say this is probably the most exciting final with one of the best crowds I've seen in a long time. It's been a super event for sure ... we've had some weather challenges along the way but I think that just made it more fun in the end.
''We've seen great surfing with the best surfers in Asia here this week, great skate and BMX action from the Australian and American DC teams, five-time Women's World Surfing Champion Stephanie Gilmore and amazing free surfer Ry Craike giving surf clinics and doing expression session .... I can't think of anything we've left out.
''Big thanks to Surached and his Quiksilver Thailand team, the sponsors, and the ASC/ISC crew for a super event. We've come a long way in four years since we sponsored our first event here in Thailand, and it just keeps getting better. Great job everyone.''
And it certainly was one of the most exciting as well as challenging events of the 2012 Asian Surfing Championship season, with a few major rain squalls threatening to blow apart the judging tower on several occasions, but there were always waves and the surfers put on exciting and impressive performances over the four day event.
The final day began with Grommet Division (under 16 year old surfers) action, where Phuket's own wunderkind 14-year-old Annissa Flynn from Kata Beach bested the boys to win the division.
She went straight into the Women's Division and took that win as well, coming into the beach to receive the 2012 Asian Surfing Championship Women's title.
An amazing feat for a girl who's only been surfing for five years. From the podium at the evening awards presentation after receiving the trophy from Quiksilver's Stephanie Gilmore, she said:
''I'm so happy, I can't tell you how happy I am to win this title. It's like insane that in five years I'm now the Asian champion.''
Gilmore complimented Flynn saying: ''I think this is a really special moment for Thailand, to have a local Thai champion.
''It's an amazing award for you, to beat the boys and the girls.'' She added: ''Thanks to Quiksilver and all of their team, and everyone who has put their time and effort into such a wonderful event.
''This is my first time to Thailand and I'm so impressed, everybody's been so welcoming, and I'm really looking forward to coming back here soon. Congratulations.''
Other highlights of the day included Bali's Wayan 'Cupak' Widiarta winning the Masters Division and Arip 'Mencos' Nurhidayat and Luke Landrigan going head to head in the Longboard Division with Mencos coming out on top and winning his second consecutive ASC Longboard title.
While the surfing was going on, celebrity surf lessons were given by Ry Craike and Stephanie Gilmore and the DC Tour skate and BMX teams were wowing the spectators on the sidewalk with their radical moves like jumping over motorbikes, doing flips and all kinds of other tricks.
The full day ended with the awards presentations held in the Phuket Graceland Resort, as the beachside venue that had been prepared was awash with torrential rain and howling winds, so everything had to be moved indoors.
With plenty of food and copious amounts of Chang beer at the ready, nobody was disappointed in the least.
ASC/ISC Men's Open Division
1. Mega Semadhi (INA)
2. Raditya Rondi (INA)
3. Lee Wilson (INA)
4. Darmayasa (INA)
ASC/ISC Women's Division
1. Annissa Flynn (THA)
2. Yasnyiar "Bonne" Gea (INA)
3. Salini Rengganis (INA)
4. Gemala Hanafiah (INA)
ASC/ISC Longboard Division
1. Arip 'Mencos' Nurhidayat (INA)
2. Luke Landrigan (PHP)
3. Tipi Jabrik (INA)
4. Wenling Chou (TWN)
ASC/ISC Masters Division
1. Wayan Widiarta (INA)
2. Graham Raisbeck (AUS)
3. Made Lana (INA)
4. Michael Anthony (AUS)
1. Annissa Flynn (THA)
2. Rory McDonald (TWN)
3. Panu Wisetsombat (THA)
4. Pancho Schneider (THA)