Frigid waters are back on the menu for the World Surf League (WSL) men's Qualifying Series (QS) with the Pismo Beach Open QS1,000 presented by Dignity Health set for November 17 - 19. This marks the first-ever WSL event to descend on Pismo Beach's shoreline and its pier will play host to a critical final event on the North America QS schedule that may ultimately decide its champion.
It's no secret that California is home to some of the world's most talented surfers, but, with very few events on its shores to showcase that talent, the competitive scene has been suffocated once they leave the amateur ranks for the pro circuit. However, 2017 has shown that the growth of events is rising and the Pismo Beach Open helped put a cherry on top for North America competitors.
Now with nine events on the men's schedule from last year's seven, not including the Vans US Open as it does not translate to regional points, opportunities are growing -- even if just by the slightest of margins. This creates a more in-depth tour for North American surfers to vie for the regional title which grants them entry into the highest rated events for the first half of the following year. In turn, giving someone a chance at making their dream run toward the Championship Tour (CT) a reality.
Contest director Andy McKay pushed for this event after seeing last year's QS schedule and felt compelled to do something to make it stronger. Now, McKay, along with the support of sponsors and his hometown community, has the chance to help that cause.
"My nephew, Austin Neuman, was a rookie competitor last year on the on the QS and there was only one lower level event in California last year on the schedule," McKay said. "This sparked the idea in my head -- California needed more events. My hometown of Pismo Beach is perfect to host a QS1000 event. I knew our community would rally around the idea of hosting a WSL contest. The city and local businesses have been very supportive."
"California specifically should be hosting more events," McKay added. "The QS system is set up to nurture young surfers and meaningful contests are severely lacking in our state. After kids age out of the NSSA and WSA, they have nowhere to go. More North America events are needed to keep talented American surfers competing and moving up the ranks of the WSL and hopefully qualify for the Championship Tour someday."
The contest will be held at the Pismo Beach Pier, which McKay notes is a great venue to add as a "wildcard" with its sporadic conditions in the winter months. But, 2016 North America QS Regional Champion Kilian Garland is one who's grown up surfing Pismo, among other Central Coast breaks, and couldn't be more excited about the news.
"This area has a lot of talent, but it is hard to be recognized and gain exposure if you come from the Central Coast," Garland said. "I am stoked to hear that the event is confirmed, this is a great opportunity for all Californian surfers. I grew up surfing amateur contest in Pismo and I have always thought it was a great contest venue. It is so cool to see such a solid tour for the North America region this year. I am stoked to be a part of it and it gets me fired up to do my best to defend my North America ratings title."
Fellow Central Coast surfer and Pismo Beach-native, Austin Neumann, began chasing the QS last year as a full-time rookie and relishes the opportunity to compete at home with now three events in California this year. The 20-year-old still has plenty of experience to gain on the QS, but, with only one event on schedule within reach due to points, Neumann's talents and mental strength were tested on the road.
"It's super exciting to have an event in my backyard," Neumann said. "We have the perfect setup for an event so I am pumped to see it actually happening and hopefully keep happening. It really means a lot for us on the Central Coast. [It's a] great opportunity to get us on the map and get some valuable points. It's also all the more comforting for us to be sleeping in our own bed and having the community's support really is going to be huge."
The Pismo Beach Open QS1,000 presented by Dignity Health will take place at the Pismo Beach Pier November 17 - 19.