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Con-dog is back in the game. Well-deserved. Photo: WSL

The Challenger Series Rankings Just Got a Savage Shake-up

Brisa Hennessy and Connor O’Leary win the Quik/Roxy Pro France

news // Oct 23, 2021
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Just one of the top-12 surfers from the men’s Challenger Series made it to the quarterfinals or beyond in the 2021 Quik Pro France. And that was Kanoa Igarashi, who is already qualified for the 2022 Tour via his 2021 CT rankings.

We’ve discussed, at length, how the double-qualifier situation will work this year (hint: the extra spots will be collected by the WSL to hand out as they please, rather than going directly to the next CS surfer in line), and how the CS surfers are rising up against this “abuse of power” by the WSL overlords.

It’ll be interesting to see how that all pans out. But for now, let’s wrap up the Euro leg and see where we stand.

Brisa, (un)officially back on Tour. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

Australia’s Connor O’Leary and Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy won the Quik and Roxy Pros France today in playful chest-high surf.

This win projects Brisa to the top of the women’s rankings and practically guarantees her promotion to the 2022 CT, after narrowly missing requalification in 2021. Fellow-finalist India Robinson has also jumped into the top 6 of the CS rankings, leaving her with a position to defend going into Hawaii.

Connor O’Leary, who has been in visibly high spirits all event (see here and here), rode his positive energy to victory over Michel Bourez in the men’s final, also defeating Kanoa Igarashi along the way.

Due to the bottom-heavy success in the Quik Pro event, the Challenger Series top-12 has gotten a violent shaking. Here’s what it looked like before France:

And here’s what it looks like now:

The biggest leaps came from event winner Connor O’Leary, who went from #100 to #6; fellow-former-CTer, Michel Bourez, who went from #108 to #19; Stab High competitor, Mateus Herdy, who went from #66 to #17; and my pick, Costa Rica’s Carlos Muñoz, who went from #29 to #11. Joao Chianca and Lucca Mesinas also made crucial jumps into the top 6.

There is one event left in the 2021 Challenger Series season, to be held at Haleiwa in late November. This competition will decide which 12 males and six females are promoted to CT status (barring any double-qualifiers).

None of the men, besides Kanoa Igarashi, is guaranteed to qualify for 2022 given the current CS standings. It’s likely the cut line will fall around the 12,000-point mark, but it’s impossible to be sure.

On the women’s side, things are a bit clearer. Gabriela Bryan, Brisa Hennessy, and Caitlin Simmers have (un)officially booked their tickets to Pipeline in January 2022. The bottom three spots remain up for grabs, with no fewer than four women within 500 points of the number six spot. That would be Coco Ho, Alyssa Spencer, Molly Piclum and Portugal winner Luana Silva.

My biggest takeaway from this abbreviated Challenger Series season is just how fun it is to watch. With so much on the line, it really feels like every heat counts.

The WSL has already released their 2022 CS schedule, which holds eight events (see below). If it were up to me, they’d choose four and call it a day.

Onto Hawaii!

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