Let's rewind back to March 15, 2020, on the shores of Cocoa Beach, Florida, where Kei Kobayashi earned his first-ever Qualifying Series (QS) win. No one would've thought that it would become the last QS event in North America of 2020.
Now, the men's and women's Jack's Surfboards Pro brings WSL competition back to the United States August 5 - 8 at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier in California after a 16-month hiatus. This marks the inclusion of a first-ever women's event alongside the fourth men's installment with a live broadcast ready to bring all the action to the world.
"We are excited to be back on the beach to bring surfing back to North America for the first time in over a year with this year's Jack's Pro," co-owner of Jack's Surfboards Jamal Abdelmuti said. "It's a great event to give local surfers a chance to earn QS points here in Huntington Beach. The importance of having a women's event for QS points is just as important as the men's. The women are bringing just as much heat and we are thrilled to be able to give them the same opportunity as the men to earn their QS points, they deserve it. With this being the first year of surfing in the Olympics we think it's a great time to show women what they're capable of."
A sought-after opportunity to join the Championship Tour (CT) elite begins with this event for North America competitors as they look to qualify for the newly formed Challenger Series (CS). The Challenger Series will comprise of the top 96 men and 64 women from around the world as the ultimate battleground for CT qualification through CS events.
"We couldn't be more excited to have our surfers back and competing once again," North America Regional Manager Meg Bernardo said. "This event has grown brilliantly and with the addition of our women competitors shows Jack's Surfboards commitment to competitive surfing. The significance of this event at this juncture of the year is massive as it gives our regional surfers a chance to lock in their Challenger Series spots with the top 10 men and top 8 qualifying for the CS."
This event returns for its fourth installment with the introduction of a 32-women format as they look for their chance into the Challenger Series. North America's premier upcoming talent including former World Junior Champion Kirra Pinkerton, 2019 Supergirl Pro victor Samantha Sibley, CT qualification threat Alyssa Spencer and 2019 US Open Junior winner Caitlin Simmers, among more will battle veteran talents such as former CT surfer, Barbados' first-ever representative at the elite level, Chelsea Tuach.
"I'm really looking forward to this event after not surfing an event in the ocean for what feels like two years," said 2019 QS No. 2 Pinkerton. "It'll be a good start and then I'm a little nervous about the four Challenger Series events just not competing for so long. This event shows that women are making their way up and that everything will be equal moving on which is really exciting to see."
The list of men's competitors vying for valuable points ranges from former Championship Tour (CT) competitors including current North America QS No. 1 Nat Young and former CT veteran Nathan Yeomans to emerging talents such as Challenger Series threats Cole Houshmand, 2019 event victor Crosby Colapinto, and reigning North America Regional QS Champion Noah Schweizer. These competitors and more will be battling for their place in the Challenger Series to continue their dream of joining the world's best.
"I think all of this time off has really made me miss and appreciate competing," said former CT competitor Young. "I am looking forward to competing again soon and it is exciting now that we have some official dates locked in. For most of us I would assume this is the longest time away from competition so I'm sure everyone is just very excited. This QS 1,000 is a very important event for the guys ranked between 8-13 who are looking to qualify for the top 10 and get into the Challenger Series events. There's a lot on the line for those guys so it will make it very exciting."
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 - as reported in a previous WSL announcement. The Jack's Surfboards Pro is North America's final opportunity to secure their spot within the Challenger Series which begins in late September.
The Jack's Surfboards Pro QS 1,000 will run August 5 - 8 in Huntington Beach, California, and be broadcast live on www.worldsurfleague.com.