- WSL / Pat Nolan

This week the World Surf League announced the schedule for the 2021 Challenger Series, an entirely new tier of competition which will put a spotlight on a new generation of talent vying to make it onto the Championship Tour.

The CS kicks off with the US Open of Surfing in September, and concludes at Haleiwa in Hawaii in December. All the details can be found here.

The new format is going to have an incredibly compelling dynamic, with some of the biggest names in surfing coming onto the Challenger Series if they fall off the CT, meeting some of the most exciting up-and-coming stars at some of the best waves in the world.

Big Names Looking To Stay On The Championship Tour

With the announcement of the Challenger Series comes speculation on the re-qualification chances of some athletes who are mainstays on the CT.

Michel Bourez, Julian Wilson and Owen Wright are further down than they're used to being on the men's side, while on the women's stars such as Sage Erickson are in need of a big result to sure up their spots. All this and more was discussed on the latest episode of The Lineup.

Surprise Superstars, Icons Fighting For Requalification, And Rip Curl WSL Finals Strategy
Insights from inside headquarters on all the big names that are fighting for requalification, the competitive and unpredictable women's World Title race, and how to identify surprise superstars like Italo Ferreira before they break onto the world stage.

Up And Coming Talent Given A New Stage To Shine

The other side of the coin is up-and-coming talent given a bigger stage on which to push for Championship Tour qualification.

This week we interviewed one of those athletes, Australia's Molly Picklum who is leading the charge for the next generation of surfing athletes from Down Under.

And despite her young age, she accepts that she's already considered a role model for the micro-groms hot on her heels like Sierra Kerr, who she surfs with regularly, along with her fans, wrote Alex Workman.

Molly Picklum at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro in Tweed Heads New South Wales, Australia. Molly Picklum won the recent Tweed Coast Pro QS 5000 - WSL / Matt Dunbar

"I'm definitely aware of it that I could be a role model for a lot of people and I get messages from Mums and Dads around Australia about how much their kids look up to me and what not, so I definitely feel a bit of responsibility but I also think it gives me more confidence, because I know what I do comes natural and it's me. So, if that has a positive impact on someone then I'm just grateful for that," Picklum said.

Kirra Turns On

Picklum was among the pack scoring bombs at Kirra recently, jagging one of the waves of the day. She's really going to be one of the names to watch on the Challenger Series.

The perfect combination of swell direction, period, size and the sand made for what some are saying was the best Kirra in recent memory.

Olympic Prep In Full Swing

We're now just days away from surfing making its debut on the biggest stage in sport, the Olympic games. preparation is in full swing, with athletes dialing boards and doing last-minute work in the gym.

The USA's Caroline Marks is going to be a favorite for a medal. She's looking strong and ready for Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Julian Wilson from Team Australia has a quiver of green-and-gold boards (the national colours). They look super light -- epoxy boards that will be perfect for what is likely to be marginal surf at the contest venue.

Cola Bros At The Surf Ranch

Finally, the latest iteration of the Cola Bros vlog follows Griffin Colapinto on his way to a third-place finish at the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe.

The vlog has been up-and-running for about a year now, and provides a candid, behind the scenes look at life on the road as a Championship Tour surfer, often with brother Crosby Colapinto and the rest of the crew in tow.

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