These Four Events Will Determine Next Year’s CT Qualifiers
The Challenger series, explained.
The WSL completely renovated its Tour system in 2020.
On the CT, they moved Pipe from the last event to the first, shortened the duration of the tour, and changed the way World Champions were decided.
On the QS, they split the tour into a two-tiered system: the Qualifying Series is now a regional tour that allows surfers from around the world to prove themselves against the best competitors in their geographic region. If surfers perform well enough on the Qualifying Series, they can qualify for the Challenger Series, which takes all of the best surfers from the different regional tours (plus those who fell off the CT) and pins them against one another to determine who will qualify for the next year’s Championship Tour.
Today, the WSL released its official Challenger Series schedule for 2021. As it stands, these four events will determine which 10 surfers qualify for the 2022 Championship Tour:
– US Open of Surfing: Huntington Beach, California, USA
September 20 – 26, 2021
– MEO Pro Ericeira: Ericeira, Portugal
October 2 – 10, 2021
– Quiksilver/ROXY Pro France: Capbreton/Hossegor/Seignosse, Landes, France
October 16 – 24, 2021
– Haleiwa Challenger: Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA
November 25 – December 7, 2021
It’s an interesting mix of events.
The US Open is famous for garbage humans and mediocre waves, but in its defense, a CT-caliber surfer usually wins.
France and Portugal demonstrate a surfer’s strength (both physical and mental), adaptability, and ocean awareness, which are vital components to a quality Tour surfer. But they’re also just more beach breaks.
Then we have Haleiwa. That wicked rip-bowl on the southern North Shore. A more than worthy finishing event, so long as there’s swell. Nobody wants to see people qualify for surfing’s main stage doing chop-hops on the left.
Most notably missing from the Challenger Series schedule is Sunset Beach, which has been the last major event of every QS season in recent memory. But with covid still restricting every aspect of live sporting events — from travel to permits to broadcasting — both surfers and fans will take what they can get at this point.
The Challenger Series field will include 96 men and 64 women, made up of 34 men and 17 women from the CT, 58 men and 44 women that are allocated by the WSL regions (though it’s yet unspecified how many surfers per region), two men’s and women’s World Junior wildcards, and two men’s and one women’s wildcards. Any unused CT spots will become wildcards.
Athletes will be able to roll over points from their best Qualifying Series event in 2020. The 2021 Challenger Series rankings will be comprised of a surfer’s best three results out of five events, the four 2021 events and one 2020 event.
Let’s take a look at who might be competing in the Challenger series from the different regions.
And keep in mind, those who fall off the 2021 CT will also likely compete in the Challenger Series to regain their status on Tour. Here’s what the back half of the men and women’s CTs look like with two (regular season) events to go.
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