6 February 2023, San Juan, La Union, Philippines: Dreamy 1-2 foot conditions at Mona Lisa Point greeted the finalists on the fourth day of competition at the 9th edition of the Single and Unattached 2023 Classic Single Fin Invitational presented by Vans and Vessel, and after several hours of competition winners were celebrated in the Newly Single, 40 & Over, Men’s Invitational, and Women’s Invitational divisions.

The Men’s and Women’s Invitational divisions winners KingKing Villanueva (La Union) and Hiroka Yoshikawa (Japan) certainly earned their 50,000 peso first place prize money, as all the finalists were posting big scores in the near perfect logging conditions and both wins were decided in the final moments.

In the Men’s Invitational final, KingKing Villanueva got off to a slow start, whereas Aurelien Meynieux (Reunion Island) and winner of the recent WSL La Union Longboard event Jay-R Esquivel posted scores in the 6 and 7 point range in the first minutes. Meynieux then scored an 8.5, the first excellent score of the final for a long peeler that allowed for a great combination of maneuvers, putting him solidly in first place. But then Villanueva came to life and after a couple of small scores, found the waves he was looking for to score first a 7.8, then an 8.3, and finally a 9.00 to post a total of 17.30 points (out of a possible 20). Esquivel never found an excellent score to threaten the lead, and Meynieux had one final chance to come back before time ran out but his wave fell short at 7.20 (he required an 8.81 to take the lead).

KingKing – Photo: Tim Hain (ASC)

“I’m so very happy to be a champion here at the Single and Unattached!”, said Villanueva. “Thank you to all the competitors and people that came to watch and support, I enjoyed this so much and I’m proud that I got the win. I just kept thinking I needed to choose the good waves and then execute with style, flow and grace. All I did is that, and that’s how I won!” he added.

The Women’s Invitational final had a dramatic finish as well, with Japan’s Hiroka Yoshikawa getting the better of Natsumi Taoka, turning the tables on Taoko who recently won the WSL La Union Longboard. Yoshikawa was the first to post an excellent 8.5 score (out of a possible 10 points) but was still trailing Taoka, who had two high 7’s and then earned an excellent 8.10 score of her own. It was a tight race but Yoshikawa found nice runner that she maneuvered a 7.65 to slide into the lead, requiring Taoka to earn an 8.06 to regain the lead. Taoka had one last chance and rode the wave all the way to the inside, jumping off and losing some skin on the reef as the final horn blew. Unfortunately for her the score fell just short…a 7.55 and Yoshikawa came in the champion.

Hiroka – Photo: Tim Hain (ASC)

“This is so amazing, I can’t believe it, that was so much fun,” said Yoshikawa. “The waves were so long, and I got two good in the first 10 minutes, so I felt really comfortable and relaxed, I was just having fun. And it was so much fun being in the water with Natsumi, she is my good friend, and with Nique and Daisy. I really enjoyed this event so much and am so thankful for the invitation and the chance to join this fun time here in La Union,” she concluded.

La Union’s Luke Landrigan has been competing at Mona Lisa Point since forever, but this was his first time to join in the 40 & Over Division. After he won the event today, he was asked how he felt about it. He replied with a grin, “This is always such a fun event, and now to be surfing with the old farts talking about lower back aches and hip pains…well that’s life now I guess, hahaha. Big congratulations to the organizers and thanks to all the sponsors and supporters, this was such a successful event.

LukeLandrigan – Photo: Tim Hain (ASC)

Newly Single champion Alec Rivera was asked how he felt about his first time as a Single and Unattached winner, to which he replied, “I’m happy I got the win of course. But that was just the icing on the cake because it was just so enjoyable to experience competing with the people I regularly surf with. And the best part was being able to surf The Point with an almost empty lineup and with good waves!” He was also very complimentary about the scheduling of the competition around the wave conditions, the beautiful event t-shirts, and the good vibes from all the surfers at the event.

AlexRivera – Photo: Tim Hain (ASC)

Congratulations is due to the organizing team, headed up by Arturo Dedace. “This is my second year organizing Single & Unattached, and our team is so stoked that we got such great wave conditions at Mona Lisa Point for the competitors,” said Dedace. “We’re so thankful to all the participants who joined the competition and who are very active attending our pocket events as well. We still have some events happening even though the competition is finished, and don’t forget the awarding night that will happen on Feb 11. We can’t wait to party again with everyone, one more time!” he added.

Single & Unattached co-creator Buji Libarnes was all smiles even after not making it into the final 4 of the 40 & Over division this morning, just happy to be surfing and hanging out with everyone. His words: “After 3 long years, finally we are all able to gather again in San Juan, La Union to celebrate our special love for single fin surfing. We are all very grateful to all our friends, supporters, and sponsors for making Single And Unattached 2023 happen. Special shout out to Vans Philippines for always believing in this event. It was so awesome seeing all our friends again and meeting lots of new ones as we gathered in Elyu to salute life, health, and friendship!”

Buji – Photo: Tim Hain (ASC)

See the schedule on the @singleandunattached_ Instagram for the schedule of remaining pocket events and the awarding party.

You can also check https://www.liveheats.com/events/98288 for all the scores and results, and also see the live webcast that was broadcast on the Single and Unattached Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/singleandunattached.

There were almost invitees from countries including Australia, China, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Reunion Island, Thailand, Taiwan, and the USA, along with invitees from all around the Philippines, joining the Men’s, Women’s, 40 and Over, and Newly Single divisions of competition attending the event.

100,000 pesos (approximately $1,800 USD) will be shared equally between the winner of the Men’s and the winner of the Women’s Invitational divisions, the winner of the Over 40’s will get 10,000 pesos (approximately $180 USD), while products and services from the many event sponsors and supporters will be awarded to the other finalists, which will happen this coming Saturday evening the 11th of February.


Men’s Invitational

1. KingKing Villanueva (La Union) – 17.30 points

2. Aurelien Meynieux (Reunion Island ) – 15.70 points

3. Jay-R Esquivel (La Union) – 14.60 points

4. Rico Dumaguin (La Union) – 11.70 points

Women’s Invitational

1. Hiroka Yoshikawa (Japan) – 16.15 points

2. Natsumi Taoka (Japan) – 15.85 points

3. Nique Miller (Hawaii) – 13.05 points

4. Daisy Valdez (La Union) – 10.00 points

40 & Over

1. Luke Landrigan (La Union) – 13.75 points

2. Naoki Kato (Japan) – 12.15 points

3. Moro Gandawali (La Union) 10.15 points

4. Ian Saguan (La Union) 9.90 points

Newly Single

1. Alec Rivera (La Union) – 8.90 points

2. Sam Turingan (La Union) – 7.15 points

3. A Faustino (La Union) – 6.65 points

4. Angelo Sacdalan (La Union) 5.05

Single and Unattached 2023 is presented by VANS Philippines and Vessel Hostel with accommodations provided by Urbiz Garden and Dato Hostel and support by Eliseos, The Escape, LineUp Bistro, Flotsam & Jetsam, Lark Inn, Attic Room, El Union Coffee, Little Canggu, Sabong, Only Pans, Hiraya, Scallywag, Funky Quarters, Tagpuan,Volkswagen, Maui and Sons Philippines, and the Rail.

Presented by @vansphilippines and @vesselhostel and sponsored by @mauiandsonsph @therailph @urbizgarden.

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