5 More People Just Qualified For The 2022 CT - Stab Mag
2684 Views
Say hello to Peru's first male CTer. Photo: WSL

5 More People Just Qualified For The 2022 CT

The Haleiwa Challenger sees 8/12 spots sealed for next season.

news // Dec 5, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ezekiel Lau, Connor O’Leary, Jake Marshall, Imaikalani Devault, Callum Robson, Liam O’Brien, Nat Young, and Lucca Mesinas will be on the CT next year. 

Four spots remain: Samuel Pupo, Joao Chianca, Jackson Baker, and Carlos Munoz currently hold onto them. Depending on the performances of Jacob Willcox, Billy Stairmand, and Ian Gentil — who are still in the draw but will need big results to move into the top 12 — they too will be joining the big leagues next year. 

But quickly, let’s give some kudos to our new qualifiers. 

Nat Young and Connor O’Leary are both CT vets that will ring a bell. 

Nat Young’s requalification story has been one of heartbreak and incredible mental fortitude. Eight years ago Nat joined the tour, seven years ago Nat was awarded Rookie of the Year, five years ago Nat fell off the tour. During his three years on tour, Nat lost his dad, while his mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer. 

Nat told Stab earlier this year that his situation at home made competitive surfing challenging. “Surfing was not the most important thing at the time,” said Nat, who, in between contests, was playing caretaker, and shuffling his mum around to operations and appointments. Not a situation any person, let alone an elite athlete, would find conducive to their performances on surfing’s biggest stage. 

After being in remission for a few years, Nat’s mother Rosie was diagnosed with brain cancer and metastasis in her lungs, stage four, leaving her unable to talk, and hooked up to oxygen tanks. Rosie passed earlier this year shortly before the birth of Nat’s first child. 

“Having a kid a month after my Mom passed away was tough. Everyone talks about how having a kid is the best day of your life — and it is amazing. It’s the most incredible experience ever. But it was also one of the most challenging experiences of my life, not being able to call my Mom and Dad and tell them they had a new granddaughter,” said Nat.

No words really. At thirty years old, Santa Cruz’s hometown hero is back on tour. What an unrelatable state of grief and adversity to have overcome. Nat, congratulations. Stuff of heroes. 

Next up, Connor O’Leary. Connor O is right back where he belongs after failing to make the cut earlier this year. It’s hard to say why that guy fell off tour in the first place — he’s built like a brickhouse, has one of the sharpest backhands in the world, and a skitz air game to boot. Not to mention, Connor’s Insta is fucken hilarious. From his kickout game, to his footy sessions in France, Connor has spearheaded the Australia CS contingent’s dream run, and he’s been instrumental to the culture of camaraderie that has been so successful for the Aussies’ most successful qualification year in recent memory. 

Jake Marshall suffered a heavy sticker denuding since he was touted as Encinitas’s next big hope as a grom. He came super close to qualifying in 2019, and even planned a qualification party, albeit prematurely, before being stung by Morgan Cibilic’s thunderous Hawaiian performance that edged him out at the last moment. Now Jake can safely flip the bird at all his skeptics, and is rightfully entitled to a qualification party sans cancellation. 

Zeke Lau, #1 ultimate surfer, #1 CS qualifier. Guy could be threatening a top-5 finish on tour next year. Frankly, he looks unbeatable. Hungry, high-percentage, and fucken scary to be in a heat with. Zeke has proven his point — he ain’t no reality TV fraudster planted on tour illegitimately. He’s probably the only qualifier from this season who could conceivably be in the mix on WSL Final’s day. 

Now, the Aussies. Callum Robson (aka Caltex), the Mad-Hueys-sponoed, jacked-as-fuck, son-of-a-prawner, is an understated powerhouse who can also stick a lofty punt. Cal has quads the size of tree trunks, can obliterate a section with flair, and throws three times as much spray on his turns than anyone else doing the equivalent. Backing him to take some heads next year. 

Liam O’Brien, LOB. LOB is built from a different cloth. LOB scored an OP1 in his final year of high school. What does that mean? It means he was in the top 0.01% of academic achievers in the state. LOB is no joke a fucking savant whose school peers had no idea he even surfed. Good Will Hunting mofo. LOB’s style is incredible, he’s already crushed it on a CT (third in Rottnest this year), and is poised to ruffle even more feathers next year with his clinical accountancy and 190 IQ. Beware the quiet LOB, he’s a killer. 

A few months back, we hosted Imaikalani Devault at Stab High Central America. He didn’t land the biggest air of the trip, but his surfing had a certain magnetism that made all the competitors stop and stare. Albee Layer said Imai was his favorite surfer.

As a kid, Imai always had incredible style and technique, but he lacked the power and speed to stand out amongst his peers (like John John and Zeke Lau). Recently he filled out his frame, and everything started to click. Imai’s turns got bigger, his air got higher, and his confidence skyrocketed. This qualification is not just the ultimate validation of Imai’s ability, but a nod that competitive surfing is heading in the right direction.

Finally, Lucas Mesinas, Peru’s first male CT surfer. Guy has a backhand that don’t quit (surely you remember that clip on @stab’s Insty a year or so back), he’s smoother than a cream cheese spread, and he seems to compete with an air of nonchalance. He could be a silent killer next year.

Tomorrow we’ll likely see the event come to a close, and the last 4 men’s spots and 3 women’s spots will be filled. So, who ya got?

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

This Is How You Win The Backdoor Shootout

The Mason x Snapt4 highlight reel is a must-watch.

Jan 22, 2022

Carissa Moore, John Florence, Caity Simmers and Jai Glindeman are the 2021 Stab Surfers of the Year

Plus, Caity Simmer and Jai Glindeman take Best Juniors, 'Sonic Souvenirs' wins Best Edit, and…

Jan 21, 2022

John John Florence Could Win The 2022 World Title Traveling By Sail Boat

And here is exactly how.

Jan 21, 2022

50 Years Of Kelly Slater

Day 28: Masked, by Morgan Maassen.

Jan 21, 2022

You Can Ride Jack Robinson’s Stab In The Dark Boards

And so many others. See you at Camp Shred, the largest board demo in the…

Jan 20, 2022

Stab Surfer of the Year: Kelly Slater and The Stab Premium Members

Day Ten: You typed, we tallied up and Kelly Slater slid into our DMs.

Jan 20, 2022

Surf Fans And Athletes Urge WSL To #PutMaseInTheMasters

Mason Ho is the fiscally responsible wildcard decision.

Jan 20, 2022

31:30

Do You Have What It Takes To Surf The Triple Crown In A Single Day?

Harry Bryant & Micky Clarke take on the trifecta, the GOAT returns, Ivan Florence finds…

Jan 19, 2022

Why The WSL Is Going Back To Lowers

And is it the right call? Let's explore, and hear from Jessi Miley-Dyer.

Jan 18, 2022

The WSL Just Revealed Its 2022 Finals Location

It's not what you think.

Jan 18, 2022

Surfing Progressed At The Da Hui Backdoor Shootout

The all-female team stole the show. Here’s a recap, and a photo gallery from Arto…

Jan 18, 2022

Rivvia Projects Is The Fourth High-Profile Surfer-Owned Brand

Here’s what we know about Julian Wilson’s new endeavour.

Jan 17, 2022

Mason Ho & Snapt 4 Take Out The Da Hui Backdoor Shootout

Honorable mention to Kala Grace for his tapped 12-point ride.

Jan 17, 2022

Stab Surfer of the Year: Italo Ferreira, Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Matt Meola, Leo Fioravanti and Alex Knost

Day Nine: The calm before the Premium Members have the final say...

Jan 17, 2022

The Backdoor Shootout Finals Are On, Watch Here

The leaderboard is tight, and the waves are firing.

Jan 16, 2022

Surf Parenting: How I Became The Very Thing I Hated Most

A cautionary tale.

Jan 16, 2022

Tonga Underwater Volcano Erupts, Triggers Tsunami Warnings In US, Australia, Japan, NZ

Satellite footage is wild.

Jan 15, 2022

How The Yin & Yang Logo Stayed Hot At 50

Timeless design, quality product.

Jan 14, 2022
Advertisement