The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) is back on California's central coastline for the inaugural SLO CAL Open at Morro Bay, a men's and women's QS 1,000, beginning February 27 - March 1. This marks the first-ever WSL event at the beautiful beach break of Morro Rock. Some of North America's top regional talents return to competition following their success in Pismo Beach earlier this month and are joined by a hungry field of competitors ready to claim valuable points on home soil.
Hailing from Morro Bay, Sydney Beckett enters her first-ever WSL event as she plans to expand upon a prominent amateur career amid the NSSA. The 15-year-old has the advantage of local knowledge, spending the majority of her time surfing near Morro Rock where the event is set to take place and its surroundings. But she also has the hometown in her corner. "To have this contest get put on in my hometown is so great and I can't wait to see all these great surfers come here to appreciate where I live," said Beckett. "It means so much that my family and friends are also here to support me and see me surf as well."
Also bringing in some high-flying caliber, recent SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach Semifinalist and local standout Braden Jones join in alongside some of California's, and North America's, top upcoming QS threats. Jones matched his best-career performance with the Semifinal appearance at his hometown earlier this month and now looks to go even bigger at a wave he's had plenty of experience at.
"I feel like I started off good so I'm just going to try and keep it going," said Jones. "I'm going for the (North America) title this year but just keep it steady and hopefully take this event down if I can. It's nice having this event near home, forty-minutes isn't that bad to travel and the waves look fun."
But, Jones must face the likes of former Championship Tour (CT) competitor and two-time Vans US Open of Surfing winner Brett Simpson, QS veteran Cory Arrambide, along with fellow local competitors Austin Neumann and Joel Bishop among the stacked field.
Neumann looked to be off to a great start to his 2020 after his Round 3 debut in Pismo Beach earlier this month but Round 4 didn't go his way and the upcoming QS threat was also dealing with a recent foot injury. But Neumann returns to competition this week at 100 percent and looks to build a solid foundation moving forward.
"I'm super psyched to be at 100 percent again after being out of the water for a month and a half," said Neumann. "I was pretty fresh off that injury and it didn't help my confidence. It means a lot to have this event right at home again and that extra comfort of being home and knowing the wave helps a ton. It's kind of crazy having everybody here that I usually only see in other countries for competitions (laughs)."
Event organizers will convene at 7:30am PST to determine a possible 8:00am start for men's Round 1. Women's competition will begin Friday, February 28. Tune in LIVE for the SLO CAL Open at Morro Bay from February 27 - March 1 at www.WorldSurfLeague.com.
The event is proudly sponsored by Visit SLO CAL, Dignity Health, Jeep, 805 Beer, Surfers of Tomorrow, Mid-State Containers, La Serena Hotel, City of Morro Bay, Peak WiFi, Natural Healing Center, Cool Cat Cafe, Hubbell Real Estate Group, Mechanics Bank, Pack Design Group, Sunrun Solar, Aqua Systems, Moshpit Digital, Sunshine and Reign Photography, Surfing for Hope, Catch Some Air, and Ahern Rentals.