- WSL / Tony Heff

2021 witnessed a glimpse of what professional surfing had in store for 2022 with the introduction of the Challenger Series (CS). With that separation of tiers, a hyperfocus on the Qualifying Series (QS) becomes that much more paramount to push athletes to that next step of making their dream of Championship Tour (CT) qualification a reality.

The Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard offers a monumental opportunity for the WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region for competitors to earn valuable points toward that Challenger Series aspiration. With only one event on offer in 2021/22', the HIC Pipe Pro QS 1000 was the only event to help qualify Hawaii/Tahiti Nui surfers to that next level, but, with First Hawaiian Bank stepping up, competitors are set for a big opening event at the famed Ala Moana Bowls June 17 - 24.

A Brief Bowls History
Gaskell placed third in the 2015 Local Motion Surf Into Summer Pro QS1,000 Hank Gaskell nabs a barrel at Bowls en route to his Finals appearance in 2015. - WSL / WSL/Freesurf/PhotoKeoki

Ala Moana Bowls is noted as one of the Oahu's proving grounds that has provided the platform for rising amateur and professional surfing careers. A wave that offers a multitude of opportunity, winners of both 2015 and 2016 (the last back-to-back years a QS ran) had to rise to the occasion of whatever Bowls was delivering on that given day.

Joel Centeio, 2015, took down a formidable field or rising talent along with WSL Champion Sunny Garcia in their Final affair with pristine Bowls conditions.

Joel Centeio Claims Ala Moana Bowls Victory
Gearing up for this year's event! See 2015's final day highlights from pumping surf at Oahu's Ala Moana Bowls.

"The waves were insane the whole time," Centeio told WSL. "The first day was perfect, 3-to-4-foot Middles, then today the North wind came and it was just the right size to where the guys could really lay into good turns and get some good barrels. So it's up there man, and I'm stoked I won."

Eli Olson's maiden QS victory in 2016 was no easy feat, overpowering the likes of emerging talents Noa Mizuno and Kaulana Apo alongside proven, 4x Pe'ahi Challenge victor Billy Kemper. Similar to 2015, conditions varied from rippable sections to barreling perfection that Olson conquered from start to finish before dedicating his win to big wave surfer Aaron Gold following his life-threatening injury.

Olson won first place at the Local Motion Surf Into Summer Eli Olson lights up Bowls toward his first-ever QS win. - WSL / tony heff

"I'm ecstatic. I'm so happy and I'm humbled and I'm honored and I'm just so stoked that that's how it went down," Olson told WSL. "Family and friends, anybody who knows me knows that means the world to me. You can't put a price on family and friends. I'm just so happy that Aaron's back with us, 100 percent healthy and back with his family, so this one's for him for sure."

Olson returns to Bowls in hopes of reclaiming his title from six years ago.

Looking Ahead: First Hawaiian Bank Steps Up For Star-Studded Lineup and Promising Forecast
Imaikalani DeVault Imaikalani deVault has his focus on making his way back alongside the world's best and looks to back up his campaign on the QS. - WSL / Tony Heff

Now, the opportunity for valuable regional points is back with the help of First Hawaiian Bank stepping up as a local sponsor and providing this platform for some of the region's best once more and now including the women for the first time at the QS level.

The next generation has grown up since the last QS was held at the famed reefbreak and the likes of recent CT elite Imaikalani deVault and fellow Maui competitor Eli Hanneman are now in their prime looking for big results. But, they will have to overcome some of the region's proven competitors such as dominant threat Ezekiel Lau, former CT competitor and formidable Dusty Payne, along with the likes of Big Wave competitors looking for their mark on the QS including Kai Lenny and Kemper.

FRESNO, CA - AUGUST 9: Coco Ho of Hawaii winning the final of the Michelob PURE Ultra Rumble at The Ranch at The Surf Ranch with team mate Filipe Toledo of Brazil on August 9, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kenny Morris/World Surf League via G Coco Ho's world-class backhand attack is back in the WSL jersey once more. - WSL / Kenny Morris

Women such as 2022 CT rookie Luana Silva, former CT veteran Coco Ho, alongside Challenger Series threats Brianna Cope and Zoe McDougall are just a few names making their presence known at Bowls this year. Joined by recent Billabong Pro Pipeline In Loving Memory of Andy Irons winner Moana Jones Wong and world-renowned surfer Bethany Hamilton, this event promises to be one for the books.

Matched by a promising forecast courtesy of Surfline, four-to-five foot, occasional plus is on the long-range report which could provide a spectacle for all those in attendance and following coverage.

The Priority Destinations Pro pres. by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard will run on the best three days of the event window opening June 17 - 24.

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