Opening day of the World Surf League (WSL) Surfing For Hope Longboard Classic, a North America and Hawaii/Tahiti Nui WSL Longboard Tour Qualifying Series event, is ready for some of the region's premier longboarders. A co-sanctioned event, this marks an incredible opportunity for competitors to get their chance at joining the world's best on the 2023 WSL Longboard Tour. Former WSL Longboard Champions, reoccurring WSL Longboard Tour threats, and emerging talents will converge on Pismo Beach, California beginning September 30 - October 1.
"It is important for the World Longboard Tours growth to create opportunities for new talent to capture a spot on tour," said Kirra Seale, Senior Manager of the WSL Longboard World Tour. "Through the introduction of fresh talent we are able to continue pushing our professional athletes to compete at their highest levels."
Emerging talents are in abundance at the Surfing For Hope Longboard Classic including the likes of current World No. 5 Kelis Kaleopa'a, Southern California's own Avalon Gall and Sophia Arky, and 2021 breakthrough competitor Keani Canullo.
Canullo grew up in one of the longboarding world's most prominent lineups of Waikiki, Oahu and joins a family of rising, and cemented, stars from the area. Canullo and her fellow Hawaii competitors have their eyes set on a big result to capitalize on the opportunity at hand.
"I think it's an awesome opportunity for everyone in Hawaii, and for everyone who's trying to get back on Tour," said Canullo. "Just surfing at this higher level is always a little more scary with a lot more on the line. But, who you surround yourself with is really important. Having a good team of people you're comfortable is always really nice to have. I think our Hawaii family has a really solid crew of people who all push each other so it's really good."
Joining Canullo from Hawaii are Sally Cohen, Haley Otto, Luluhia Blomfield Kane, and more looking to get points away from home. But, they will have to deal with proven competitors such as 2015 WSL Longboard Champion, and youngest World Title holder, Rachael Tilly, Kaitlin Mikkelsen, Maria Fernanda Reyes, and more.
The men's side of competition has no shortage of world-class competitors including current World No. 1 Kaniela Stewart, 2019 WSL Longboard Champion Justin Quintal, WSL Longboard Tour veterans Kai Sallas and Tony Silvagni, reigning North America Longboard Regional Champion Steven McLean, and rising stars of the sport including Tosh Tudor and Kaimana Takayama.
Silvagni is no stranger to the pressures of requalifying for the WSL Longboard Tour, only falling outside the Top 10 once in 2016, and brings that confidence to Pismo Beach. Currently sitting outside the official cutline for the 2023 WSL Longboard Tour, the 31-year-old will look to back himself up before the 2022 Cuervo Classic Malibu Longboard Championship finale gets underway alongside the world's best. (Full interview in article above)
"The opportunity to have a regional qualifier after three years is an honor to compete at an elite level to qualify for the (WSL) Longboard Tour for 2023," said Silvagni. "It's exciting to have new faces join the tour and to push the level of surfing. It's time for me to show up and excel on the day of the event. I hope to have my family here to attend the event which makes it even more special."
A 7:00 a.m. PDT call will determine a likely 7:30 a.m. PDT start to competition.
Tune in LIVE for the Surfing For Hope Longboard Classic beginning September 30 - October 1 from the starting horn until the Finals.