6 events. 80 surfers. 10 spots up for grabs. If surfing was big enough, someone could film a reality show about the Challenger Series. Almost had it with Make Or Break. Nice try, WSL. Or better yet, maybe we could program an algorithm into one of these new AI bots to take all of the social media feeds of the surfers in the circuit, and edit it into a consumable show for us fans to watch. Hey Chat GPT, write me an article about the upcoming 2023 WSL Challenger Series.
Here are the stops:
- Snapper Rocks, Australia
- Sydney, NSW, Australia
- Ballito, South Africa
- Huntington Beach
- Ericeira, Portugal
- Saquarema, Brazil
Looking through the roster, there are maybe 10 names I am not familiar with. 10 out of 80. At least that’s the field for this first event at Snapper, set to start any day now (read: right now). Everybody on here RIPS. This thing is absolutely stacked. I feel like a lot of people are more excited about this series than they are the Championship Tour. A lot of people including me. To be quite frank, making any kind of prediction is like throwing darts in the dark, for what the Australian’s called “The Changas”. However, if you didn’t know, I’m 50-50 at darts in the dark. Here’s your proof. So, let’s have a stab at it. Here are the 10 men I believe will qualify for the CT next year through the Challenger Series.
Straight to the point, no more than a roll of the dice. As Ronnie Blakey put it, I could probably re-pick a list of 10 without re-using these names, and still feel strongly about it. It’s talent packed. Of course ELo and the Woz will take all the credit in assuming the responsibility of generating such a field, but I would just like to point out how high the level of surfing is.
For example, have a look here at Adin Masencamp. If you’re not familiar, the young South African has been near full time on the QS since about 2017. He’s spent the shortened 2021 season, as well as last year on the Challenger Series in hopes of qualifying for the CT. Watch the video above, and tell me you dont see the similarities in his surfing compared to Jake Marshall’s, who just spent a year and a half on tour. Adin finished 93rd and 98th in the last two years on the CS. My point being, again, everyone rips. The consistent and known surfers will be given the upperhand, but I really do feel like anyone could win these things.
It should be noted that this tour, same as the CT, seems to favor regular footers. Snapper and Ericeira are both right hand point breaks. Ballito is mostly a right, if I’m not mistaken. And the other 3 locations are beach breaks. Would it kill the WSL to look into a strict left hander? That’s coming from someone who stands with their left foot forward..
Last note. Go back through that locations list, and tell me which wave on there would properly prepare a surfer for Pipeline or Teahupoo? Ballito might offer some solid tubes if it’s good, and Brazil can be heavy, but there are no real waves of consequence on the CS. Rio Waida and Ian Gentil were the 2 rookies who made the Round of 16 at Pipe this year. The previous year Lucca Messinas and Sammy Pupo both made the quarters. Matt McGillivray also impressed at Chopes in 2022, reaching the Quarters with that insane perfect 10 he had. Should be interesting to see how Rio and Gentil fare out at the End Of The Road this year. All I’m saying is, it would be nice to see a heavy wave in the mix. The barrel hounds like Kauli Vaast and Jackson Bunch would have a much better chance at qualifying.
Nonetheless, we are about to get started on what should be an exciting race. By about to get started, I mean the women’s event just began a couple hours ago.
Snapper Rocks just completely fired for a week, I’m sure you’ve heard. The sand banks are, maybe were, in fantastic shape. And the WSL has already gone on hold for 3 days. Rumor has it some fun looking swell is on the way, but we’ll see what they are gifted with. Mother Nature has been crude to ELo and co this year.
To try to pick a winner at the Gold Coasts famed Superbank is like attempting to find a corner in a round room. Well, you might as well call me RipCurl, cause I’m on the search. (Forgive me, I’m buzzed). Picking a name out of a hat, I’ll go with Evan Gieselman.
Even though Snapper is a right, the tight, pockety surfing it demands really suits goofy-footers. 2019 through 2014 there were 4 different goofs to take down the event – Italo, Owen Wright, Wilko, and Medina. Nolan Rapoza looked really strong out there last year, and I can imagine there will be at least 1 guy with their right foot forward to surf on Finals day.
Looking through the points from last year, if you can win one event on this Challenger Series, you are looking pretty strong to qualify. John, Medina and Callum Robson each won an event last year, and the 3 of them tied at 23rd place on the rankings. Top 10 graduates. So if you can get a win, stay healthy for the other 5 events and make a COUPLE heats, you are looking good.
This event should get us off to a hot start. Snapper is always a pleasure to watch, in my opinion. The ladies are surfing some fun looking waves. There’s already been a couple heavy hitters to fall, as well as some big names moving on. Tune in here if you’re not already. Then, drop your picks for winners and qualifiers below.