Since the HIC Pipe Pro finished on December 19, 2021, the professional surf world has laid dormant - until tomorrow, January 27. The SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach pres. by French Hospital Medical Center brings a global audience LIVE surfing from some of North America's top-tier talents with a 7:30 a.m. call set to determine the event's opening horn.

A stacked field for both the men and women are in attendance with former Championship Tour (CT) competitors, Challenger Series threats, and QS veterans all ready for the starting horn with a live webcast set to bring the action to the world.

Locked and Loaded: SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach is Back
Watch some of the the highlights from 2020 and prepare for the 2022 event presented by French Hospital Medical Center.

Defending event winners Sawyer Lindblad and Kevin Schulz are back to reclaim their titles. This marked Lindblad's, now 16, first-ever WSL victory as the San Clemente, California, surfer shared North America No. 1 with her brother Taj following the second event of 2020. Now, Lindblad comes fresh off a run at CT qualification that fell just short of making her dream come true when she least expected it.

"I'm so excited to surf in a contest again and just have fun for the most part," said Lindblad. "It was a really good experience coming to the QS level and winning my first one I ever competed in. I got to surf against some of the girls that were older than me and had more experience, and I got to learn more about Pismo itself. I was not expecting to come that close to qualifying after a year of really just learning, and hopefully I can get that close again."

Schulz Finds Redemption, Victorious at Pismo Beach
The 2018 runner-up earned a big SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach victory after overcoming one of his idols in the Final.

Schulz secured a San Clemente sweep over former CT competitor Brett Simpson and marked Schulz's last competition until August of 2021. The now 26-year-old claimed his maiden WSL win and now has a chance to defend an event title for the first time in his career. Schulz's apt for competition hasn't swayed, though he comes into 2022 with a different mindset than the past.

"I feel like I come back to Pismo Beach always feeling confident and comfortable, it feels like a second home to me and I'm excited to be back," said Schulz. "I did the Still Frothy event here a few months ago and I've gotten a runner-up, and first and just feel good coming into this event. These days if I have time and am able to do it, I'm going to compete. I'm still a competitor and love competing, but I've also got some things going on away from surfing so it's a great balance and helps me in a positive way."

Alyssa Spencer (USA) with her mom at the Jacksonville Super Girl Surf Pro on November 14, 2021. Alyssa Spencer left Jacksonville Beach No. 1 on North America and looks to stay there. - WSL / Kurt Steinmetz

But, they will have deal with a hungry field of competitors including the likes of recent CT qualifier Caitlin Simmers, who turned down her opportunity, current North America No. 1s Alyssa Spencer and Taro Watanabe, Challenger Series threats Nolan Rapoza, Cam Richards, Josh Burke, and many more. Added to that list are wildcards such as Dimitri Poulos, and Olympic Gold Medalist Kaleigh Gilchrist.

Connor Coffin and Parker Coffin of the USA prepare to surf against each other in Heat 20 of Round Two at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Ca. - WSL / Kenneth Morris

Poulos hasn't competed on the WSL stage in over two years, and now looks to make his presence felt alongside Gilchrist - who last competed at the Rip Curl Pro Argentina in 2019.

"It feels very insane to think that I get to be back in a jersey again soon," said Poulos. "I feel like it's a little taste of surfing prior to COVID. I'm very hyped to get the wildcard because it feels like it takes away a little bit of the pressure and expectation for this event."

"I think it'll be almost three years since my last contest," said Gilchrist. "Crazy to think how long it's been and also to think about everything that went down in those three years. I'm not sure if many know, but I experienced a life-threatening injury in July 2019. We were in South Korea celebrating our Water Polo World Championship and the balcony I was on top of collapsed. I fell 10+ feet and was pinned down by rubble.

"I woke up from surgery to learn that I endured a deep left leg laceration that cut three muscles and I was millimeters from nerve damage," added Gilchrist. "Which essentially means I was millimeters away from losing the function of my foot. I've learned a lot and gained invaluable perspective over the past few years. I'm sure the competitor in me will come out."

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A 7:00 a.m. call will determine a likely 7:30 a.m. start for competition.

Watch the SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach pres. by French Hospital Medical Center LIVE beginning January 27 - 30.

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