What exactly happened during Casugay's heroic surfing rescue

Dec 7, 2019
PHOTO: Michael Eijansantos

AFTER seeing his rival stranded without his board, surfer Roger Casugay turned his board around to save Indonesian Arip Nurhidayat. It was a heroic act — a textbook case of pure sportsmanship.

But what exactly happened that Friday morning, and how will it affect his standing in the ongoing SEA Games competition?

Swells on that day had risen to dangerous levels because of the passing of Typhoon Tisoy. At the time of the incident, Casugay was leading in points over Nurhidayat in this heat.

Fellow La Union surfer Jay-R Esquivel had already won the previous round, earning him a chance at gold. Casugay and Nurhidayat (who also goes by the nickname Mencos) were fighting it out for the other spot in the finals.

"[At] 18+ minutes, [Casugay] was winning," said Mike Oida, contest director at the surfing event.

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But when the incident happened, the organizers had no choice but to postpone the event. While both surfers got back to shore safe and unharmed, the decision to shelve the race was made because "it was a competitors' safety issue," Oida explained.

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On Saturday, their rematch was also postponed because "wave conditions were not suitable for the competing surfers and [we do] not want to risk their safety."

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The event will push through on Sunday, December 8. Oida said that the wave forecast looks pretty good, projecting a 7 a.m. start.

When Casugay and Nurhidayat face off again, the organizers will have two options.

One is to completely reset the heat. Both surfers will start the heat with no priority and a 0-0 score.

The second is to resume the heat at 18+ minutes when it was stopped, with both surfers in the water without priority, carrying over their original points.

Oida and the rest of the organizing committee will decide on one of the two options tomorrow, based on existing surf conditions.

If Casugay wins against Nurhidayat tomorrow, he will face Esquivel in a battle for gold.

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PHOTO: Michael Eijansantos
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