Koa Smith Pleas For WSL 2022 Ultimate Surfer Wildcards After Zeke Lau Officially Qualifies Via CS - Stab Mag
The (almost) Ultimate Surfer, Koa Smith, would like his jersey back. Photo: Tony Heff/WSL

Koa Smith Pleas For WSL 2022 Ultimate Surfer Wildcards After Zeke Lau Officially Qualifies Via CS

“The Ultimate Surfer wildcards are floating around up in the air, up for grabs.”

Words by Ethan Davis

Koa Smith was the runner-up of The Ultimate Surfer to Zeke Lau.

Koa and Zeke were two legitimate A-grade surfers in a pool of mostly C and D-grade surfers on the reality TV show. Zeke went on to win, taking the $100,000 cash prize and three wildcard spots into 2022 CT events.

However, since then Zeke has went on a tear on the Challenger Series, coming ninth at the US Open, and winning the MEO Vissla Pro in Portugal. He is currently ranked #2 on the CS, only behind Kanoa Igarashi (who has already qualified for the 2022 CT), and is now guaranteed a start on the CT next year.

The fallout of Zeke’s double qualification has been a subject of much interest at our offices, which caused Stab editor-in-chief, Brendan Buckley to write an article extensively covering the wildcard fiasco published last week.

Quoting Buck:

“After winning the CS event in Portugal, the Ultimate Surfer himself, Zeke Lau, is all but guaranteed to finish the year in a qualification spot. So, what happens to the three event wildcards he won on a reality tv show? Does Ultimate Surfer #2, Koa Smith, get to unbox them? Nup. Those, too, are given back to the WSL for reallocation.”

In the past when CT surfers double qualified (currently Griffin and Kanoa are on track), the WSL gave the spots to the next surfers down in the rankings. This year, instead of going off the rankings, double-qualification will be given to whomever the WSL chooses. 

Needless to say, CS warriors were not too pleased.

Since the WSL’s announced their proposal, more than 123 people signed a petition asking for this policy change to be revoked. Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, Tatiana Weston-Webb, and Johanne Defay have been said to have jumped on board. 

Earlier today, Koa released an IG reel, stating the “Zeke just requalified for the tour. That means the Ultimate Surfer wildcards are floating around up in the air, up for grabs.”

Look closely at the nearly 800 comments and you’ll find CJ Hobgood, Alana Blanchard, Jack Robinson, Jack Freestone, Josh Moniz, Parker Coffin, Anastasia Ashley, and more urging the WSL to chuck a few wildcards in Koa’s direction. Given the uproar from the CS competitors about the latest policy change, it will be interesting to see if they get awarded to Koa.

If you have an open spot, do you give it to the next person down on the Challenger Series or the next person down on a reality TV show? We shall see.

Only one thing is certain, them wildcards aren’t floating in space. They are in the middle of a ring of fierce aspiring professionals yanking at them from every angle.


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