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Posted by Jeb Brinkley | 03.10.2020 | Surf News, Uncategorized

WSL Kicks Off the Challenger Series in 2020

This year will see several firsts for the world of surfing.  The Summer Olympics in Tokyo will feature the first wave-riding Olympians, Slater is bringing his famous wave pool designs to one of the driest deserts on the planet, and G Land, one of the original Championship Tour (CT) stops, returns to the schedule for the first time in twenty-three years.  With all the hype that is surrounding the Sport of Kings, the World Surf League began looking for a way to give their audience more of what they want: watching the world’s best athletes on the world’s best waves.  In November of 2019, competitive surfing’s governing body announced that 2020 would be the inaugural year for the WSL Challenger Series.

This will not just be another confusing division to try to keep up with.  The Challenger Series is designed to take the top CT hopefuls from the Qualifying Series (where up-and-coming surfers scrap it out for enough points to qualify for the Dream Tour) and put them into a hyper-competitive arena against both CT and QS surfers.  Where might this take place?  Well, the WSL decided to take the QS events that are worth the most points, called QS 10,000s, and put them into their own division, along with a couple extra stops on the schedule.

Mikey Wright will be one of the athletes competing in the Challenger Series

The Challenger Series circuit for 2020 will consist of eight contests that are each worth 10,000 QS points and will include QS invitees chosen from the top ranks of the Qualification Series, as well as CT surfers looking to cushion their re-qualification chances in between CT stops.  The new circuit stops in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, California, Spain, Portugal, and then two stops in Hawaii.  What’s neat about this new circuit is that fans will have the opportunity to watch surfers who we wouldn’t ordinarily  see in a heat together, compete in less familiar breaks.  It will also allow the top QS surfers with chances of CT qualification to further separate themselves in points from the thousands of other young surfers competing in the smaller events, thus creating a scenario where the hungriest members of the next pro surfing generation are competing directly against one another for a shot at the Championship Tour.

The WSL is quite excited for the new circuit on tap for this year.  Travis Logie, WSL’s Senior Manager of Tours and Competition, says “This new level of event and competition will provide greater opportunity for elite qualification, visibility for the next generation of surfers, and a marketing platform for our regional partners.” The League’s goal is to increase media coverage for each event and offer more televised contests than ever to ramp up surfing’s fanbase in the months leading up to surfing’s premier in the Olympics.  This year is going to usher in great expansion for the sport, WSL’s CEO at the time of the announcement, Sophie Goldschmidt, said, “This is another important step in our evolution,” noting that the new series coupled with the Olympic Games in Tokyo will bring more attention to the world of surfing than it’s ever had.

With Olympic Qualification and the Challenger Series approaching, Leo Fioravanti prepares for the big year ahead.

The first event of the Challenger Series will be the Sydney Surf Pro, held on Manly Beach in New South Wales, Australia, and the event window is March 9th-March 14th.  Make sure you tune in to watch some of the worlds best surfers kick off their campaign for Championship Tour qualification!