The 2021-2022 European Qualifying Series officially launched in August, and though the opening event was in theory the Rip Curl Pro Anglet, things didn't go quite as planned and now the actual first event will be the upcoming Men's QS5,000 and Women's QS3,000 Azores Airlines Pro.
The QS is where surfers battle in their own region, through the year, to earn a spot on the Challenger Series and fight for a chance at the big leagues, the Championship Tour. Multiple events, multiple destinations, various categories will award you a certain amount of points and by the end of the season the Top 9 Men (+1 Wildcard) and Top 7 Women (+1 Wildcard) will qualify for the 2022 Challenger Series.
Pressure's ON as each result count and the end of the qualifying season is set for April 10th, 2022.
Stop No.2 of (likely) 6 on the European Qualifying Series, the Azores Airlines Pro will award 5,000 and 3,000 to the men and women's winners respectively. The 112-Men and 56-Women fields are filled with the very best of European surfing, experienced tour pros and up-and-coming juniors in the hunt.
Do we still need to introduce the Azores? Most will have seen footage of it over the years, a lucky few might even have traveled there and surfed its incredible spots. Right in the middle of the Atlantic, the archipelago consists of lush green, volcanic islands, much-like a European Hawaii and boasts a coastline battered by swells from all directions.
Sao Miguel is the largest of the 9 main islands and has been hosting QS events for years and even the World Masters Championships, showing the world how beautiful and surf-friendly its coast is with waves for surfers of all levels. Volcanoes, hot springs, lakes and fishing villages make a visit on the island an unforgettable experience.
Praia de Santa Barbara is a classic black-sand beachbreak with powerful waves, often tubular and that can handle some decent size. Highlights of past years include incredible barrels from some of the world's best surfers, crazy air sections and beautiful walls to carve on.
The World Surf League (formerly ASP) has been coming to Azores since 2009, and returns each year to this iconic archipelago that has become a staple on the European tour.
Epic battles have gone down in Azores in the past and the event has helped countless surfers qualify for the Championship Tour as a QS6,000, QS10,000, Prime, but it has also hosted junior categories, the World Masters Championships and other non-professional surfing events.
The last winner of a QS there is none other than World No.10 Frederico Morais, and the list of past winners is prestigious with Yago Dora, Justine Dupont, Ian Gouveia, Jack Freestone, Jesse Mendes, Tomas Hermes, Bianca Buitendag, Messias Felix, C.J. Hobgood, Laura Enever.
The Azores Islands Pro will unfold from November 1-6, 2021 and will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.
In the meantime check out this selection of images from 2019 >>