The World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region's premier competitors are standing by for opening day at the Sunset Pro presented by HIC, a regional Qualifying Series (QS) 1000. This event provides a crucial opportunity for Challenger Series (CS) qualification as those looking to build upon big results from the Priority Destinations Pro presented by Mastercard hope to keep competitors in search of turning their respective seasons around at bay.
This marks the third stop for women's regional competitors, including the co-sanctioned Nissan Super Girl Pro, as competitors reset from the beaches of Oceanside, California to the world-renowned wave of Sunset Beach. For competitors such as Hawaii/Tahiti Nui regional athlete Erin Brooks, this marks a big opportunity to retain her footing in the region as she currently sits at No. 5 on the rankings. The 15-year-old has already cemented herself as one of the top emerging women of her generation and hopes to bring that ability to the jersey. (Full interview in video above)
"I'm so stoked to have another event in Hawaii and Sunset has so much history," said Brooks. "I've been training and getting my breath holds because Sunset is a deep water, big wave, and also getting my legs strong to turn those bigger boards. This year was the first year I've done more QS events and it's been really fun."
Brooks will have to overcome the likes of North Shore powerhouse Moana Jones Wong, current No. 2 Puamakamae Desoto, and 2022 Championship Tour (CT) Rookie of the Year Gabriela Bryan among many more rising talents looking to make their mark.
The men's side of competition includes a heavily-stacked field featuring 2022 CT wildcard-turned-Top 10 threat Barron Mamiya, reigning event victor Billy Kemper, 2019 victor Cody Young, current Hawaii/Tahiti No. 1 Eli Hanneman, and emerging talent Jackson Bunch (HAW). Bunch, who earned runner-up behind Hanneman at the Priority Destinations Pro, comes into this event with ambitions of trying to stay within Challenger Series qualification by season's end.
The 18-year-old has proven his backhand in waves of consequence, but must now do so in the jersey at Sunset Beach. (Full interview in video above)
"Starting off the year with a second definitely helps with getting on these Challenger (Series events)," said Bunch. "I had a rough couple years with contests just with COVID happening and everything, but now I feel more ready and I'm excited for Sunset. I really like Sunset, it's a challenging wave and it has so much that it offers. You can do big snaps, get barreled, you can almost do anything out there."
Also in the men's draw, former CT competitor and victor at Sunset Beach, Dusty Payne joins 2022 CT Hurly Pro Sunset wildcard Koa Smith, North Shore standout Joshua Moniz, and a plethora of hungry surfers looking for valuable points.
The event is also supported by the Hawaii Youth Surfing Development Organization (HYSDO), a local nonprofit working to support Hawaii's next generation through career and competitive development, in and out of the water.
Event organizers will make a 7:00 a.m. HST call for a possible 8:00 a.m. HST start.
The Sunset Pro presented by HIC will run on the best three days of the event window beginning October 28 - November 6.