A powerful right hand reef like Haleiwa would be just the place for California's Nat Young to finally make it back to the Championship Tour -- he's best known for his powerful backhand surfing, honed at waves such as Steamer lane, where he won the Coldwater Classic as a 17 year old, back in 2008.
Young spent four full seasons on the Championship Tour between 2013 and 2016. As far as professional surfing goes, that's a long time away from the big leagues. Surfers drop down to the Qualifying Series and make a return in one or two years all the time, but rarely do they return six years after falling off the CT, and nine years after their Rookie year.
Except that's exactly what Young could be on the verge of achieving. At number five on the Challenger Series rankings with one event left in the season -- the Haleiwa Challenger -- there's every chance we will see him on the Championship Tour in 2022. This ranking was helped by a recent third-place finish at the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira.
So, can he do it? His experience in powerful waves -- especially right handers -- gives him something of a leg up, right off the bat. The Challenger Series rankings are made up of some of the most exciting young, up-and-comers in surfing today, but many are more comfortable competing in smaller Qualifying Series conditions than big, open ocean reefs such as Haleiwa.
After smaller surf in Huntington Beach and Europe, the North Shore of Oahu could throw something of a spanner in the works of some of the Challenger Series athlete's campaigns.
Young's best Championship Tour results genuinely came at bigger, powerful waves such as Bells, where he locked in a 2nd place finish in 2013, and a third-place finish in 2015. He's also locked in solid results at Margaret River -- perhaps the best comparison between a CT venue and Haleiwa -- and in Fiji.
Though a dive through Young's career Championship Tour and Qualifying Series results show that Hawaii isn't a location that tends to bring out his best competitive performances. That said, he did lock in a 9 point ride at Haleiwa during the 2019 Hawaiian Pro, on his way to a 25th place finish.
If Young can make it happen -- and it's looking like that's entirely possible -- it will be a fairytale comeback story and a testament to his grit and determination as a competitor, especially in the face of some personal tragedy.
When Young fell off the Championship Tour in 2016, it came after a year in which he suffered last minute losses in France, Portugal and Hawaii -- there was every chance that if just one thing had gone his way, he never would have dropped off the Championship Tour.
You can guarantee that when he's back in a Championship Tour jersey, Young will be wiser, stronger and right back at home.
Tune into the Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger LIVE from the North Shore of Oahu from November 26 - December 7 to see who will make the cut for the 2022 Championship Tour.