After the recent announcement of the 2021 WSL Challenger Series (CS) schedule, World Surf League APAC is excited to announce the CS qualifiers from the Australia / Oceania region. The region’s top surfers will now get the opportunity to compete for a spot on the elite Championship Tour at four events to be held later this year.
Following four successful regional Qualifying Series events in 2021 and a number of events being carried over from the start of 2020, 10 male and 8 female competitors from the Australia Oceania region have booked their spot on the Challenger Series, the ultimate battleground for surfers to showcase their talents for the chance to qualify for the following season of the elite-level Championship Tour (CT).
Australia / Oceania Men’s CS Qualifiers
- Matt Banting
- Reef Heazlewood
- Callum Robson
- Jacob Willcox
- Liam O’Brien
- Sheldon Simkus
- Kalani Ball
- Jackson Baker
- Dylan Moffat
- Billy Stairmand
Australia / Oceania Women’s CS Qualifiers
- Molly Picklum
- Sophie McCulloch
- Zahli Kelly
- Philippa Anderson
- Freya Prumm
- Kobie Enright
- India Robinson
- Dimity Stoyle
Fresh off a win at the last event of the regional Qualifying Series The Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro, Central Coast phenom Molly Picklum is excited for a full tilt assault on the Challenger Series later this year. Picklum will be a favourite from this region to lock in a spot as a representative on the 2022 elite Championship Tour.
“I’m so excited to head off in September and begin my campaign to qualify for the CT.” Picklum said. “I’ve had a great run of results already this season and feel like I’m continuing to build, so my confidence is where it needs to be when competing against all the best up-and-comers in the world. My dream is to be on the Championship Tour competing for world titles and the Challenger Series is the gateway so I’m stoked for the opportunity.”
Former CT Competitor Matt Banting has been battling to regain his spot on the Championship Tour for almost 5 injury-plagued year’s now. After a breakout start to 2020 was backed up with some strong results in 2021, Banting will head into the Challenger Series as a top seed and as one to watch for a spot on the ‘Dream Tour’ for the second time in his young career.
“I’m super excited about the new format of the Challenger Series,” Banting said. “In the space of 3 months we’ll have 4 huge events alongside the majority of the CT surfers which will be an awesome test. Coming back from this injury and not having surfed for 3 months, I’m currently putting everything I can into my rehab to give myself the best possible chance for these events. I can’t wait to get back in the jersey and give it my all.”
This year, the Challenger Series will include four stops this condensed season with events in California, Portugal, France and Hawaii.
“We’re very excited to bring the Challenger Series to life in 2021,” said WSLCEO, Erik Logan. “These four events will not only provide an enhanced showcase for the up and coming surfers, but will also allow those who fail to re-qualify through the CT the opportunity to perform well and re-qualify for the 2022 Championship Tour.”
The 2021 Challenger Series will kick off with the US Open of Surfing from September 20 – 26 in Huntington Beach, California. The WSL, Vans, and IMG look forward to returning the Vans US Open to its regularly scheduled spot in August 2022. Surfers will then head to Europe for the MEO Pro Ericeira, scheduled for October 2 – 10 in Portugal, followed by the Quiksilver and ROXY Pro France, from October 16 – 24 in South West France. The season will wrap in Hawaii, at the Haleiwa Challenger, from November 25 to December 7.
“This new level of competition will provide greater opportunity for CT qualification as well as give visibility to the next generation of surfers,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer, SVP of Tours and Head of Competition. “I can’t wait to see who will qualify for the tour in 2022.”
The 2021 Challenger Series calendar will run as follows*:
– 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
*All tour stops and dates are subject to change due to applicable COVID-19 related restrictions, including global travel restrictions.
With the 2021 CS season being condensed and focusing on the Northern Hemisphere, the Piha Pro CS and the Sydney surf Pro events will be postponed for this year but aim to return in 2022.
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, 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.
This season, 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.
The health and safety of our athletes, staff, and the local community are of the utmost importance and the WSL has a robust set of procedures in place to keep everyone safe. These plans are unique to each event and include measures like testing for athletes and essential staff, masks and strict physical distancing measures, temperature checks, and minimal personnel on-site.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.