- WSL / Tony Heff

Today, World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui is excited to confirm the Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard, the first event of the 2022/23 Hawaii Regional Qualifying Series (QS) season. Many of Hawaii's top local men and women athletes will hit the Ala Moana Bowls lineup over three days of competition during the June 17 - 24 holding period, marking the first WSL-sanctioned event since 2016 at the famed left-hand reef break on Oahu's South Shore.

A Trip Down Memory Lane: 2016 Ala Moana Bowls
Get lost in highlights from the last time WSL had a presence at the iconic Bowls lineup.

As a QS 1000 event exclusively for regional athletes, the event is a crucial opportunity for local up-and-comers and longtime veterans looking to qualify for the 2023 Challenger Series, the global launching pad to the elite Championship Tour (CT).

"First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard are proud to be working with WSL Hawaii to support our local athletes right here in the islands," said Raoul Magana, First Hawaiian Bank Senior Vice President and Card Services Division Manager. "As the birthplace of surfing, Hawaii consistently produces incredible talent representing our community and surf culture at home and on the world stage. We're thrilled to be a part of their journey, especially at a beloved venue like Bowls to showcase the very best of what our local surfers can do."

"Thanks to First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard, Hawaii's Regional QS season will begin at Bowls for the first time ever," said Robin Erb, WSL Hawaii Regional Director. "The WSL guarantees spots for our regional athletes on the Challenger Series, so this event is mission critical to delivering a series of local opportunities to qualify for higher-level competition."

Kai Lenny's Back In The QS Jersey
Kai Lenny of Hawaii advances in second from round one heat three to round 2 in the Volcom Pipe Pro 2018 held at Pipeline, Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii One of the world's renowned big wave surfers Kai Lenny will trade board quivers as he prepares to battle on the QS. - WSL / Keoki Saguibo

Maui's Kai Lenny is one of many world-class local athletes planning to be at Bowls next month. The 2021 WSL Red Bull Big Wave Award Performer of the Year is one of Hawaii's most versatile watermen who has proven himself in the world's largest waves, and is now looking to find success among the high-performance caliber of surfing at the regional QS level.

"I'm just so stoked that there is going to be a regional event at a great wave like Ala Moana Bowls," said Lenny. "I'm super excited to compete here for the first time in a QS as I've just never had the chance, and it's a great opportunity. To have a local sponsor like First Hawaiian Bank come in and support the community with an event on the local level is amazing. This is something that could help spark more events for the regional QS season and it means a lot to all the surfers."

Puamakamae DeSoto Searches For Continued Success
Pua DeSoto Puamakamae DeSoto exploded onto the scene with her wildcard entry into the Michelob Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger and now looks for more. - WSL / Brent Bielmann

Puamakamae DeSoto, daughter of 2010 World Longboard Champion Duane DeSoto, is one of Oahu's most promising up-and-comers. With recent success at Bowls on the amateur level, plus a last-minute wildcard into the 2021 Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger, DeSoto is on track to further her career at a venue she knows well.

"Competing at home is an honor and privilege," said DeSoto. "Every time I surf I'm honoring my ancestors and the genealogy of surfing. When I get to compete at home it allows me to share the experience with my ‘ohana, community and all of the keiki of Hawaii with the hopes of exciting the future generations of Native Hawaiian surfers."

Pua DeSoto DeSoto paying homage to her ancestors and taking part in the blessing of the Haleiwa Challenger. - WSL / Tony Heff

"I've really happy with my surfing right now," added DeSoto. "I've focused on barrel riding and big wave riding over the winter. Now, moving into summer, I'm honing in on my strength, stamina and technical skills. The pandemic was hard with the decrease of events I'm hoping this season there will be more events. I really amped to showcase my surfing and compete."

"My goal is to get a couple wins and qualify for the Challenger Series, but I also want to graduate with honors from high school - that is really important to me too."

The Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard will run June 17 - 24 at Ala Moana Bowls, Oahu.

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