He took his passion halfway around the globe, but this time, riding the waves was a little different.
“The water was colder, the waves bigger and the competition was much tougher,” the shaggy-haired guy with a distinct Visayan twang said.
From the shorelines of Sabang in Borongan City, Eastern Samar to the blue waters of Newport Beach in California, it was an unlikely journey for Roderick Bazar with only a 61-inch surfboard to ride on along the way.
But there he was – along with some of the best in his sport from around the world – competing in the United Skim Tour Oktoberfest tournament near the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach.
Manoy to his friends, Bazar is a proponent of the new sport of skimboarding, which is creating waves, so to speak, around the globe, particularly along the beaches of Asia, Australia and North and South America.
Skimboarding is a boardsport in which a smaller and skinnier surfboard, usually between 61 and 64 inches, is used to glide across the water’s surface.
Skimboarders drop the board onto the thin wash of previous waves and use their momentum to skim out to the breaking waves, which they then catch back into shore like surfing.
To score points, skimboarders do tricks like skateboarders. Bazar, who grew up in Sabang, a beachfront baranggay where a river and the sea meet in Borongan, has been competing for the past eight years or so.
The two-day event, Oct. 5 and 6 in Newport Beach, was the eighth and last stop of a surfing circuit that features stops in various places, including Brazil and Mexico. It was sanctioned by the United Skim Tour, which originated in Southern California, the birth place of the sport.
A similar circuit is operating in Asia with tournaments in some Philippine cities and Taiwan.
“It’s been my life,” said the 28-year-old Bazar. ” I’ve realized I could have a future in this sport.”
He learned skimboarding from a younger brother, and realized he could be really good at it when he landed in the Top 10 among about 200 competitors in a national tournament in Tanauan, Leyte about 10 years ago.
“Lumakas ang loob ko,” Bazar said. “Kaya ko pala ito.” ( I was encouraged. I knew I could do this.).
Now living mostly in San Felipe, Zambales, Bazar joined the Alon Skimboarding Club, and teaches the sport on the side. The equipment and gear can be pretty expensive, with a good skimboard costing upwards of 25,000 pesos.
He has worked out a sponsorship arrangement with Exile, a skimboard manufacturer, which provides him with boards and pays for certain expenses, such as entry fees to tournaments.
Even though he is now rated world-class in the sport, he has not received any government support, and both the city government of Borongan and the Eastern Samar provincial government did not lend any help in his participation in the Newport Beach competition.
Instead, several Boronganons, including some Southern California residents, helped raise funds for his trip and pay for his expenses.
“I owe a lot to them,” Bazar said. “I was able to come here because of their help.”
Through Josie Casundo-Latorre, a Southern California dance studio owned by Nonie Belarmino held a zumba marathon that raised more than $700 for Bazar and another competitor, Arjun Jimenez.
Another group of friends and supporters, led by Carlos Alido Jr., and Ver Latorre, helped generate publicity and awareness for the two Filipinos’ participation in the Newport Beach championship.
However, the tournament was also an eye-opener for Bazar and Jimenez.
“There’s still much to learn to be really good,” Bazar said. “We need more practice and tournament experience and better equipment.”
Because they were foreign entries, Bazar and Jimenez were put in the professional category. They made it okay in their heats but both failed to qualify for the semifinals.
Still, surfing from the shorelines of Sabang, Baybay, Cabong, and other beaches of Borongan, and reaching all the way to Newport Beach was surely a heck of a ride.
On a skimboard!
Follow Bert Eljera on Twitter @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at facebook.com/BertEljera.