With six women to qualify through the Challenger Series and one event left to go -- the Haleiwa Challenger -- we're about to see some new faces on the Championship Tour in 2022. Here's who is knocking on the door of the Dream Tour.
To date, Costa Rica's Brisa Hennessy and Hawaii's Gabriela Bryan have clinched their qualification thanks to their results in the first three Challenger Series events run so far this year. For Hennessey it's a return, while Bryan will be a true rookie in 2022.
That means there are still four Championship Tour spots up for grabs at Haleiwa. A powerful, often unpredictable right-hand reef on the North Shore of Oahu, anything can and usually does happen here.
One contender who certainly won't be phased by the heavy water is Tahiti's Vahine Fierro. Fierro, currently in equal fifth place on the rankings, is on the verge of qualification at a time when waves such as Pipeline and Teahupoo have been added to the Championship Tour schedule. The timing couldn't be better.
It was only last season that women had their first Championship Tour event at Pipe, while the return of Tahiti to the women's CT had to be delayed due to COVID restrictions. All the while, 21-year-old Fierro has been charging her local spot of Teahupoo and honing her chops in waves of consequence. She just dropped a cooking new edit from The End of the Road which demonstrates exactly how comfortable she is in heavy barrels.
If she's on Tour when it rolls into Tahiti, she'll be a clear favorite. Even in a field of World Champions, she'll have by far the most experience at what is one of the scariest waves in the world. All she needs is a good result at Haleiwa to lock in her rookie year on the CT.
There is also a very good chance we'll see a new cohort of young athletes from the U.S. who are pushing the realms of progressive surfing. In the current top six are Oceanside's Caitlin Simmers and San Clemente's Sawyer Lindblad, two of the brightest prospects American surfing has produced. Both surfers are barely old enough to drive but represent the future of high-performance, barrier-shattering wave-riding.
Same goes for Australia. India Robinson is currently at Number 4, while Molly Picklum is just below the cut line at Number 8. They're two athletes long considered future Championship Tour surfers, and now they're close to making that a reality.
There are still so many ways the qualification scenarios can play out -- a win would send someone rocketing up the rankings, even if they're not currently in the conversation. But one thing is certain -- the Championship Tour is about to get even more exciting with a new generation of talent about to make their presence felt.