As the final stop of the 2021 Challenger Series, the Haleiwa Challenger, fast approaches and CT hopefuls assess their chances of being on Tour in 2022, an important rule change has recently been made as it relates to surfers who have been referred to as "double qualifiers."
A double qualifier is defined as a surfer who qualifies for the Championship Tour through both their performances on the CT and also qualifying events, which previously were known as Qualifying Series events, but this year are contained solely within the new Challenger Series.
Each year the top 20 men and top nine women on the Championship Tour requalify for the next year's CT season. This year, a handful of surfers such as Kanoa Igarashi also have done well enough on the Challenger Series to lock in a simultaneous qualification through the CS, becoming "double qualifiers."
Previously, a double qualifier's position would go to the next best qualifying surfer. But new to 2021 the WSL's Tours and Competition office had stated that they would only guarantee CT qualification for people within the quota itself -- meaning the top twelve men's and six women's positions at the conclusion of the Challenger Series.
And if there was a double qualifier in that group, as is now looking likely in the current rankings?
That surfer's position would not go to the next best Challenger Series surfer, but would be determined by the WSL via a wildcard awarded at the discretion of the Tours and Competition office.
However, due to surfer feedback during the Challenger Series, the Tours and Competition office has officially amended this rule as of last week, and now, if there is a double qualifier on the Challenger Series leaderboard, their position will go to the next highest-ranked surfer on the CS.
Currently two Challenger Series surfers sit above the 12th position cut line as double qualifiers -- Kanoa Igarashi in first and Griffin Colapinto in ninth, pushing the line down two spots to the 14th ranked surfer. In this circumstance, Leonardo Fioravanti is currently ranked 14th and is also a double qualifier, so the line pushes down one more position to the 15th ranked CS surfer.
Jessi Miley-Dyer, Senior Vice President and Head of Competition for the WSL, talks about this recent change below using the men's leaderboard as an example as there are currently no double qualifiers in the women's draw.
Using Challenger Series leader and confirmed 2022 CT surfer Kanoa Igarashi as an example, what is a simple way of explaining what the qualification rule used to be and what the rule has now been changed to?
"Kanoa is a really good example of the rule and how it works. This year, Kanoa is already guaranteed to qualify through the Challenger Series. He's number one in the rankings and we know he's going to be within enough points to qualify via the Challenger Series if he needs to.
However, he's already qualified with his performance on the Championship Tour, so he's someone who is a double qualifier.
Historically, the way the way the rule has worked is if the men are going to qualify 12 surfers for 2022, and we already know that Kanoa is in the top spot and has also qualified through his performance on the CT, we would then go down to number 13 on the rankings.
We recently brought in a rule -- and by recently I mean before the pandemic, so it seems quite a while ago -- that we would only guarantee qualification for people within the quota itself.
We said we would only guarantee qualification for a surfer who finishes one through 12. So using Kanoa as the example, what the proposal was, was that we wouldn't necessarily qualify 13th off the rankings and that spot would come back as a wildcard for the WSL.
We would then either use the wildcard for the 13th placed surfer, or we would look at using it for a highly-ranked Championship Tour surfer who had been injured and therefore hadn't requalified."
What prompted the rule change?
"We had a lot of surfer feedback on the rule through Europe, and think the feedback has been really fair. Quite a few of us have had good conversations with surfers.
On behalf of Tours and Competition, we understand there were definitely some unintended consequences of the rule and also some unanticipated stresses. We had never seen the rule play out in real time, this is the first year it's been in play.
So after reviewing all the feedback we've gotten, we believe that it's not the right thing to do for us to be using the rule this year.
Looking ahead we're going to review the rule and how it would be applied with the Challenger Series surfer reps, and collectively work out the way it would be used in the future.
So this year, we'll be qualifying the top 12 Challenger Series surfers regardless if there are CT surfers in front of them.
So using Kanoa as an example, we're going to commit to going down to the 13th ranked surfer, or as many spots as we need depending on how many CT surfers end up in that top 12."
For a look at the qualifying allotments and surfers who have already clinched their spots on the 2022 Championship Tour click here.