hizunome bettero wins jacks pro

Hizunome Bettero Takes Down The Jack’s Surfboards Pro

After ten long years of chasing the Qualifying Series (QS) around the world, it was on the shores of Huntington Beach that Hizunome Bettero earned his first-ever win at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS1,500. It was an all-international Final affair that witnessed contest standout Arashi Kato earn runner-up — the Japanese surfer’s best result of his career as well. It was a marathon finals day that ran 17 heats, including the Final, with both Bettero and Kato surfing five heats to claim their honors over a stacked field of competitors.

2017 Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500 Champion Hizunome Bettero (BRA) (R) and runner-up Arashi Kato (JPN) (L).Inaugural 2017 Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS1,500 Champion Hizunome Bettero (R) and runner-up Arashi Kato (L). – WSL / Andrew Nichols

Bettero was a known threat from his debut Round Three heat, and continued to build that reputation in Round Four with a dominant display of power surfing. The Ubatuba, Brazil-native used his veteran experience to finally breakthrough as an event champion and did so in convincingly. Kato proved to be a formidable opponent and did not give up in the Final til the last horn sounded, but Bettero got the best of each exchange with powerful forehand carves and his signature aerial attack to emerge victorious.

“I have no power left in me after an amazing day and I’m just so stoked to get my first win after ten years of being on the QS,” Bettero said. “It’s the best feeling ever. Sometimes you think it will never come, but if you keep fighting for it and really believe in yourself, God will give you a blessed day. I’ve gotten seconds and thirds, but there is no feeling like winning a competition that you give your everything to. I can’t believe this day is here.”

Hizunome Bettero (BRA) winning his Round Four heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Hizunome Bettero – WSL / Nilton Baptista

The Brazilian trampled through the Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS1,500 and took out former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Keanu Asing (HAW) along the way in Round Five where he earned the highest single-scoring wave of a 9.43 (out of a possible 10) — though he earned the day’s highest heat total just prior in Round Four, a 16.93 (out of a possible 20).

The Brazilian had a taste of the CT nearly a decade ago at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro and came away with an Equal 17th behind Freddy Patacchia (HAW). With a Top 50 finish last year, Bettero has a spot in the highest-rated QS events in the first half of the year and wants to find his way to the Dream Tour as more than just a wildcard. With this result, Bettero just jumped 105 spots up the rankings to be current No. 26.

Hizunome Bettero (BRA) at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Hizunome Bettero – WSL / Andrew Nichols

“I’m fully charging this year and trying to compete in all the QS10,000s that I can to give myself a shot at qualifying — I believe in myself,” Bettero added. “After this I’m feeling much more confident since I had two Round Two exits in Australia so I put my name in here and told myself that I have to do better than that. I know I can do better, but sometimes you deal with the ups and downs, and right now I’m feeling so blessed.”

Arashi Kato (JPN) winning his Round Four heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Arashi Kato posted an excellent in every heat except his Round Two opener and the Final against Bettero. – WSL / Nilton Baptista

Runner-up Arashi Kato began his campaign in Round Two of this event and began claiming scalps right away in Round Three — besting former CT competitors Brett Simpson and again in Round Four against Nate Yeomans. This marks Kato’s best finish on the QS thus far and now has steam heading back to his Chiba home in Japan.

“It feels so good to make a Final after dealing with injury last year and only being able to focus on the Japan events,” Kato said. “This year I have my focus on all of the QS and so stoked to have this opportunity to stay in the Top 100 for the re-seeding after the US Open. Today, surfing so many heats, I’m definitely tired, but that was great training for the year to come. I have so much confidence after beating guys like Brett Simpson from here at his homebreak so that’s an incredible feeling for me. With the QS6,000 at my break in Chiba, I’m just ready to go now and will put all my focus there.”

Dylan Goodale (HAW) earning runner-up in his Round Four heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Semifinalist Dylan Goodale – WSL / Nilton Baptista

Dylan Goodale and Bettero met three times in this event with the Brazilian coming out on top each bout despite Goodale’s best efforts. Goodale progressed through this event under the radar until their Round Four heat where he posted an excellent 8.33, but it was Bettero who found a way to come out on top in the end. However, the Hawaiian’s performance was one to take note toward future events and a challenge he’s up for if the opportunities arise.

“I was really hoping that Semifinal was the heat I’d finally beat [Bettero], but I just made one priority error where I should’ve waited and that was the heat,” Goodale said. “It was great to get that good start in Round Four, but [Bettero] beat me there and that was kind of the pre-cursor for the rest of the day. I’ll just keep doing my thing and trying to gain exposure while doing some more of these events. It’s hard to do more events with all the travel involved so it’ll be great to see more events in North America and Hawaii start to come up.”

Kilian Garland (USA) winning his Round Five heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Semifinalist Kilian Garland. – WSL / Nilton Baptista

Fellow semifinalist, and 2016 North America QS Regional Champion, Kilian Garland had his work cut out for him in a Round Five superheat featuring Kiron Jabour, Torrey Meister, and Nate Yeomans. After coming out with a win in that heat, Garland looked poised for a big result, but it wasn’t to be as he fell to the eventual runner-up, Kato. But, the Santa Barbara, California-native has a big year planned with his first chance to contest in at least one QS10,000 this season in Ballito, South Africa.

“This was such a great event, we had good waves the whole weekend and it’s great to see more events come up in the region to help us get more results,” Garland said. “Last year I progressed further as the season went on so I’m hoping to catch that kind of rhythm again heading into South Africa. I’ll just be training around the Central Coast until then since I’ve heard there’s some powerful waves around Ballito and I want to get there early for a few events before the QS10,000. I’m feeling even better than I did last year so I’m looking forward to hopefully earning even more results.”

WSL / Andrew Nichols

top wqs seeds apss

Top WQS Seeds Debut at Jack’s Surfboards Pro

Top WQS seeds debut at Jack’s Surfboards Pro as Huntington Beach continued to fire on all cylinders with more pumping waves that lasted throughout the entire day of competition. Three-to-five foot, clean waves graced the competitors with a chance to showcase their style and power — and produce near-perfection. Rounds Two and Three were completed in their entirety and the top seeds debuted in phenomenal fashion.

No. 1 seed Torrey Meister displayed his dominance with near-perfection and earned a 9.77 in the pristine conditions on offer. The Big Island, Hawaii-native followed up with another excellent 8.80 to combo the field. Meister came to Huntington Beach following the Australian Open in Manly Beach, NSW, Australia and nearly ended his season with a scary fall in his heat.

Torrey Meister (HAW) winning his Round Three heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500 with a near-perfect 9.77.Torrey Meister – WSL / Nilton Baptista

“It feels really good to be here with some great waves, it’s probably the best Huntington I’ve ever surfed,” Meister said. “There’s a lot of power out here though, some soft spots, but that’s just Huntington and you have to have a trusty board — this is the board I rode at the US Open and felt really confident in my equipment.”

“In Manly I was just doing a backside turn and caught a rail, but when I fell my head hit the sand and I felt my neck pop really hard. It was actually the hardest I’ve hit my head surfing. I almost blacked out a little bit, but we went on hold again so I ran into the medical tent and he said it wasn’t broken. I tried to surf the rest of the heat, but was pretty blown out and then ended up in a neckbrace for a few days — it wasn’t broken though so I’m good.”

Matt Passaquindici (USA) at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Matt Passaquindici – WSL / Andrew Nichols

Matt Passaquindici represented his native break of Huntington Beach well and blasted two excellent scores, an 8.67 and 8.37, to overcome a stacked heat including Hawaii’s Eli Olson. Passaquindici’s only other QS event this year was earlier at the Shoe City Pro QS1,000, due to bothersome injury, where he earned an Equal 13th. But, the explosive surfer looked poised for a bigger result here at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS1,500.

“I just feel super comfortable out here and going through the motions like I would in a freesurf,” Passaquindici said. “Luckily Eli [Olson] split the first wave with me to give me that 8.67 on the left and I think that just set up the heat for me. [Jack’s] has been supporting me since day one and I’d love to give it back to them with a win. I see myself in the Top 100 and giving myself a shot at qualifying for the tour someday, but I just took advantage of this semester to get some units done since I had an injury. I still have big goals for myself and we’ll see what happens.”

Jordy Collins (USA) winning his Round Three heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Jordy Collins – WSL / Nilton Baptista

Fellow Californian Jordy Collins came out victorious of an all goofyfooter match up after he went wave for wave against an in-form Manuel Selman, who posted a near-perfect 9.50, alongside Ryland Rubens and Jake Kelley. Collins has spent nearly his entire amateur career at Huntington Beach and showed that knowledge with an impressive showcase of forehand power by picking off two gems.

“I came down here and was pretty excited with everything that’s setup here, this is definitely one of the bigger 1,500s I’ve been to and the crowd on the beach motivates you to do that much better,” Collins said. “I know [Manuel Selman] and how hard he rips, and after I got that first 7 I started feeling a little comfortable — but then he got that 9.50 and made me realize you can’t be remotely comfortable out there. Even after I backed up my other score, I just knew one of those guys could blow up.

“I’ve always seen the guys who get to start in Round Three and skip a few rounds thinking how nice that must be, and now I get to do that. It’s really crazy and I’m stoked to start in the same round as them.”

Arashi Kato (JPN) winning his Round Three heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.

Arashi Kato smashed the last heat of the day with an impressive performance and earned an 8.93 and 8.17 to advance into finals day alongside runner-up Brett Simpson. – WSL / Andrew Nichols

Crosby Colapinto (USA) winning his Round Two heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Crosby Colapinto. – WSL / Nilton Baptista

But, it was Crosby Colapinto who continued the string of California wins, representing the surf-rich town of San Clemente, with an impressive victory over Nate Yeomans, Shuji Nishi, and an in-form Sebastian Williams. The 16-year-old has slowly begun making his way into the QS scene behind older brother Griffin and today was a huge step for the younger Colapinto.

“It definitely helps being a little bigger at a young age and surfing with older guys to work on my power, and my competitiveness,” Colapinto said. “We get really good waves at home so that helps a lot. I grew up surfing in my dad’s surf camp and he got me on a board when I was at least 3-years-old so that was really helpful as well. I’d like to continue school and get my high school diploma before chasing the QS with my dreams of qualifying for the Championship Tour.”

Patrick Gudauskas (USA) winning his Round Three heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Pat Gudauskas – WSL / Nilton Baptista

Some more big performances from top seeded surfers included Pat Gudauskas’s 15.27 heat total to start Round Three, and Keanu Asing’s impressive comeback after being charged with an interference right away and still winning with an 8.93 and 8.10 — his 8.10 was reduced by half.

On the international front, four other countries are well represented between Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and Chile with appearances on the final day of competition.

Kiron Jabour (HAW) winning his Round Three heat at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS1,500.Kiron Jabour – WSL / Nilton Baptista

Tune in live tomorrow beginning at 8:00 a.m. PDT to see who takes the inaugural Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS1,500 crown.

WSL / Andrew Nichols

WSL Elite Head For Jack’s Pro in Huntington Beach

Huntington season returns early this year and some heavy-hitters are locked in for the Jack’s Surfboard’s Pro Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 1,500 at Huntington Beach March 31 – April 2. The inaugural event will include some of the QS’s best and earn an all-important 1,500 points early on to get their year underway.

Pat Gudauskas has plenty of experience on the shores of Huntington Beach with a 2016 Shoe City Pro QS1,000 title and past performances at the Vans US Open. The Jack’s Surfboards QS1,500 offers Gudauskas and other competitors a chance to compete in a new time of year in one of the ultimate arenas on tour. But, the San Clemente, California-native feels right at home just a short drive away and looks for yet another Huntington title to add to his resume.

Taking down Nathan Yeomans (USA) in the Final after a dramatic Semifinal with Chris Waring (USA), Pat Gudauskas (USA) emerged victorious at the Shoe City Pro.Pat Gudauskas – WSL / Nilton Baptista

“”I’m thrilled that Jack’s Surf Shop stepped up to put the QS1,500 event on at home in Huntington Beach,” Gudauskas said. “I think that the level of surfing going on in Southern California is some of the best in the world and to have an event like this in everyone’s backyard is something that we all are celebrating.”

“For me, the QS last year was a huge learning season. It was the first year away from the CT that I really gave it everything I had and focused from start to finish with the goal of qualifying in mind. This year I feel even more refined after working with Glen Hall on some improved strategy approaches at the beginning of the year, along with Channel Islands and my new model, the ‘Fever,’ coming to fruition just this month.”

Keanu Asing during heat 2 round four of the WSL Hawaiian ProKeanu Asing – WSL / tony heff

However, Gudauskas will have to deal with the likes of fellow former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Keanu Asing. Asing claimed his maiden CT victory last year at the Quicksilver France Pro, but it was not enough to keep him on the elite stage. Now, the young Honolulu, Oahu surfer is prepared to stake his claim for a Top 10 spot and find a place right back on the Dream Tour.

“Coming off some poor results in Australia leg really got me motivated to get into more heats,” Asing said. “I feel being close by and having a QS1,500 here in Huntington is a really good chance to surf some heats and really get my rounds in — as well as staying competitive. I’ve grown up surfing so many events here at Huntington, I feel I have a good winning record here and relationship with this wave. It’s always comforting when you know how to get results at a certain place. This is a great head start for me to get going.”

Torrey Meister before his Round Four heat.Torrey Meister – WSL / Ed Sloane

But, No. 1 seed Torrey Meister is another Hawaiian with some deep experience competing at Huntington in the Vans US Open. Meister made a push for the Dream Tour at last year’s Triple Crown, but was too far back for a shot toward making that dream a reality. The Big Island of Hawaii competitor has already been on the QS grind this year and looks to start making his qualifying run in Huntington Beach.

“I enjoy competing at Huntington and have a lot of history with the wave,” Meister said. “My first QS final was at Huntington when I was 15 and I have been doing events there since I was a little kid. I haven’t really ever competed at Huntington this time of year so I’m looking forward to that. I hear the waves can be better and it will be nice to experience an event at Huntington where it is a little less crowded then normal.”

Torrey Meister (HAW) gauging into a Huntington Beach gem and Round Two heat win.Meister right at home when Huntington Beach does its thing. – WSL / Kenny Morris

“I’m giving the QS a go again this year and doing all the major events,” Meister added. “I definitely am trying to qualify and that is the goal, but I do my best when I don’t put to much pressure on myself — there’s enough pressure on the QS [already]. But, obviously I’m staying fit and mentally ready to compete so when I do get the opportunity to get a result I am ready.”

Other notable names include Brett Simpson, Nate Yeomans, and Koa Rothman for their chance to gain an all-important 1,500 points early on. But, they will have to deal with a few up-and-comers who may provide a shakeup to those aspirations such as Nolan Rapoza, Cam Richards, and Noah Scweizer.

Tune in live beginning March 31 at 8:00am PST on www.worldsurfleague.com, or by downloading the WSL App to steam the event through your mobile device.

-WSL / Andrew Nichols

Jacks pro apss at huntington beach

Jack’s Surfboards Prepares for Inaugural Event at Huntington

The men’s Qualifying Series (QS) is seeing growth once again, with the addition of the Jack’s Pro QS1,500. In honor of their 60th Anniversary, Jack’s Surfboards will be stepping up as a major sponsor and taking over the Huntington Beach Pier March 31 – April 2 — complete with a live webcast.

For 36 years, Jack’s Surfboards co-owner Jamal Abdelmuti has been part of the retail empire that’s been a key part of the Huntington Beach community since 1957.

“We are beyond thrilled to be sponsoring a QS-level event and better yet to have the event in our own backyard,” Abdelmuti said. “We are excited to be able to give surfers another opportunity to earn those valuable QS points and we are counting down the days to the event. Our business would not be where it is today without the strong relationships we have built over many years and the support from the community.”

Jordy Collins earning runner-up in his Round Two heat at the APSS Shoe City Pro

Jordy Collins earning a solid runner-up behind Brett Simpson in Round Two of the Shoe City Pro at Huntington Beach. – WSL / Jackson Van Kirk

One of those up-and-coming surfers looking for valuable QS points is 18-year-old Jordy Collins. Collins began turning heads at last year’s Essential Costa Rica Open QS3,000 with a Quarterfinal result and is ready for his first year as a full-time QS competitor.

“QS events like this are super important just to stay in contest mode and keep you fresh,” Collins said. “It’s also nice to be competing somewhere I’ve competed my whole life, I’ve probably had more contests at Huntington than anywhere. Last year was a huge confidence booster for me especially after Costa Rica. I wasn’t even chasing the QS full-time and ended up getting some good points so it just made my dream of competing on the world tour a little bit more manageable.”

Jordy Collins will look to regroup for the next QS event after facing early elimination at Virginia Beach.

Jordy Collins – WSL / John W. Ferguson

“This year I want to qualify for the 10,000s so I can really start making a run at the tour next year,” Collins added. “It’s just going to take me grinding away at these lower level events all year long to accomplish it.”

Contest Director Scott Waring has played a vital role in making events happen for these competitors, putting on the Shoe City Pro Men’s and Women’s QS1,000 once again earlier this year. Waring’s taking that experience, and passion, into the inaugural Jack’s Pro QS1,000 to continue the building process with its team of owners.

“I’ve known Jamal [Abdelmuti], Bobby [Abdel] and Ron [Abdel] for 30 years and they have always supported the athletes and the sport,” Waring said. “Jack’s is huge in the surfing community because of this continuous support. These QS events are important because even more than points, young surfers need to learn from their peers. Looking up to the older local ripper and testing your skills against them builds confidence and experience. I want to work toward providing more opportunities at the QS level here at home.”

Keanu Igarashi winning his WSL debut Round 1 heat at the APSS Shoe City Pro.

Up-and-coming surfer Keanu Igarashi. – WSL / Andrew Nichols

No one knows the importance of inaugural events more than the WSL North America General Manager, Meg Bernardo, and Tour Manager, Brian Robbins. Bernardo and Robbins work alongside the contest directors in helping shape these events from the ground up to continue building the schedule in coming years for both the QS and Junior Tour.

“We know how important these regional events are for our surfers to gain points and experience within their home region,” Bernardo said. “It is our hope to keep improving on existing events and create new opportunities for competitors that will help them achieve their goals. We’re really excited to get the Jack’s Pro on the schedule to do just that and give some up-and-coming guys a shot at competing. A QS1,500 level contest really gives these competitors a chance to build their international seeding into next year and keep progressing.”

-WSL / Andrew Nichols

kanoa igarashi wins shoe city pro 2017

Kanoa Igarashi Opens Up 2017 with Another Shoe City Pro Title

Less than two years ago, Kanoa Igarashi was just beginning to climb the Qualifying Series ranks with his first-ever win at the Shoe City Pro. On Sunday, the full cycle was completed with a masterful second title as a hometown favorite in the 2017 edition of the Shoe City Pro QS1,000.

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

“It’s amazing when you set your eyes on something and get to accomplish it — this year couldn’t have started better. I’ve gotten to spend some time with my family and the people I love with a chance to do the contest so I’m feeling really good mentally and physically. Winning this contest the first time I was an underdog and got on a roll as a young kid not thinking I was going to win it. It’s crazy coming back two years later as a favorite with different kind of pressures, but getting that chair up the beach was like déjà vu.”

Kanoa Igarashi wins the 2017 apss shoe city pro

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

It was no easy road for Kanoa Igarashi who posted the event’s highest single-scoring wave of a 9.50 in the Semifinals over an in-form Ian Crane before moving into his final bout with event dark horse and giant killer, Takumi Nakamura. Although Kanoa’s win is just a stepping-stone for his 2017 season on the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT), the stacked field of QS warriors was more than enough to keep him on his toes.

“I know these guys are Top 100 surfers and they were going to come out hungry since it’s a regional event. It means a lot to them in that way which makes them even more dangerous, but at the end of the day I came to compete and give it my all. I’m just excited to come away with a win here and get everything started off right.”

Runner-up Takumi Nakamura couldn’t have dreamt a better start to his 2017 campaign — not losing a single heat until Round Five where he earned runner-up behind Brett Simpson. But the Japan native got his payback with a Semifinal win over Simpson before taking on Kanoa Igaraashi in the Final. Nakamura finished at No. 133 on the QS last year and will be looking to build a lot of confidence, and momentum, out of this placing to start the year.

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

“I’m so happy to have made that final after battling with one of the top seeds here, there’s no other way I would’ve liked to have done it. Matching up with Kanoa Igarashi in the Final was incredible and so stoked to have put up a fight against him. That was an incredible experience surfing against two CT guys back-to-back and helped get some confidence moving forward into the rest of the year.”

Nakamura’s excellent choice of waves eliminated the hometown crowd’s chance of witnessing two of their own go head-to-head as Brett Simpson’srun was ended in the Semifinals after a great event. The two traded three showdowns with Nakamura coming out 2-1. But Simpson’s outlook remains bright and light-hearted as he prepares to make his requalification hopes a reality by season’s end.

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

“It’s always a little frustrating to lose right before the Final, especially because I wanted to surf against Kanoa so bad — would’ve been super fun way to end this one. I felt good rhythm throughout this event and it was great to get some heat cardio in. You can freesurf all you want and feel good, but when you’re in a heat, your heart’s pounding the whole time and it takes all of your focus.

Ian Crane fell victim to Kanoa Igarashi’s sweep of the Shoe City Pro, but not before taking some big scalps of his own — including 2016 North America QS Champ Kilian Garland in Round 5. With the first event out of the way and an equal 3rd to boast, Crane now has his eyes set on a fully loaded spring to start the year.

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

“It was great to feel like I was being smart out there and to put that into a heat. Now I’ll get set for a trip up the coast with O’Neil and stoked on that to get my mind in the right space before heading over to the Volcom Pipe Pro. It’s good to get this first event in and test the waters to see what I’m doing right, and what I’m doing wrong. Definitely not happy I lost and I’m ready to go after another contest with some fire.”

-WSL / Andrew Nichols

Chelsea Tuach’s Back on Top with a Shoe City Pro 2017 Victory

Chelsea Tuach found her way back the the top of the podium after falling off the CT last season. The Bajan came into the Shoe City Pro QS1,000 looking to find her form again and did just that — posting the highest single-wave score of the women’s event with a 9.00 in the Quarterfinals. Tuach now preps for a massive year ahead of her with this nice win to build from.

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

“It feels so good to start off the year with a win after feeling a lot of nerves at the end of last year so this is amazing,” Tuach said. “It was great to surf my way through some rounds and I had a lot of confidence going into that final already having a few heats under my belt. I felt like I was in a good rhythm with a good game plan and it all fell into place, just like old times.”

“I’ll stay in California for awhile and get some training in while working on some boards with Matt Barron before heading over to Australia for those QS6,000’s,” Tuach continued. “I’ll be working on my technique more than anything — no heat strategy, nothing like that, just get my form really dialed in. I’m feeling fresh again for those events which feels great and can’t wait to get the year really off and running.”

Event wildcard Samantha Sibley took full advantage of the opportunity given to her all the way to the Final and finished runner-up. The 14-year-old kept her dream run alive with a massive performance in the Semifinals, topping Tuach, and then getting off to an early lead before the Bajan responded. Still just a Junior Tour competitor, Sibley will keep her main ambition there with plenty of time to grow.

Photo – Mike Moir

“I’m so stoked and had no expectations coming into this event — my goal was just to make it through my first heat, but to get runner-up is awesome,” Sibley said. “I was totally not expecting any of this to happen and can’t believe it right now. This event got such good waves with yesterday being perfect and today it was a bit more tricky, but still so fun.”

Last year’s runner-up, Tia Blanco, found herself in another Shoe City Pro Final but couldn’t keep pace with her early performances during the last heat of the event. Blanco’s aiming much higher than her Top 20 finish on the QS Rankings last year and knows this is just a step in the right direction.

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

“I think being selective throughout this event got me into that final, but I could’ve been more selective in that last heat. I’m really looking forward to Australia now and this was great practice for the upcoming bigger events.”

Kaliegh Gilchrist has transitioned from being a 2016 Gold Medalist at the Rio Games for Water Polo to a full-time QS competitor and started the year off right where she wanted to be — competing for a Shoe City Pro title. Despite falling shy of the win, Gilchrist’s ambitions are nothing short of what you would expect from an Olympian and prepares for a big 2017 after nearly six years away from competitive surfing.

Photo – Jackson Van Kirk

“It was grindy out there but couldn’t be more stoked with my first QS final — it’s exactly how I wanted to start the year even though the competitor in me is frustrated with a fourth-place finish. It lights a fire under me to just train harder and I’ve got a great crew around me with Simmo [Ryan Simmons] and DSC Training so this is the best opportunity I’ve been given.”

– WSL / Andrew Nichols

Storm clears, surf’s up as first pro event of year brings big names to Huntington Beach

The rain stopped, the skies cleared and the waves were pumping.

The kickoff to the competitive surf year didn’t disappoint Friday as athletes battled it out south of the Huntington Beach Pier at the Shoe City Pro, the first stop on the World Surf League qualifying series. Waves were in the 4- to 5-foot range to open the three-day event.

“We luck out every year,” said contest organizer Scott Waring, who said it was pouring rain on workers Thursday as they set up tents on the sand. “It was glassy through the day and sunny. It was awesome.”

The event isn’t a big one for points but draws some big names. Current World Tour competitor and Huntington Beach native Kanoa Igarashi hit the water Friday, warming up for his second year on tour to compete against the world’s best.

Expected to surf today is former World Tour surfer Brett Simpson, who at the same spot won U.S. Open of Surfing titles in 2009 and 2010.

In total, 96 men and 32 women are competing.

When the women hit the water today, Newport Beach’s Kaleigh Gilchrist, part of the gold medal U.S. water polo team at last year’s Olympics, will be competing with a renewed focus, trying to get into the 2020 Olympic Games – this time as a surfer.

Gilchrist, who grew up surfing competitively, won this event in 2014. While she’s done a few contests since bringing home the gold about five months ago, this event kicks off her 2017 campaign as a pro surfer.

“It’s kind of the best possible situation I have, with not too much pressure,” she said. “I’ve been training; it will be a good kick-starter for the first contest of the year.”

She watched Friday as close friend and fellow Newport surfer Victor Done won his heat. She resisted the temptation to surf herself out.

“I was kind of jealous. I’m trying to be conscious about my body and preparing for competitions – it looks so fun, but I knew I’d be exhausted for tomorrow,” she said.



2017 Shoe City Pro QS1,000

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif./USA (Monday, December 19, 2016) – The World Surf League (WSL) is pleased to announce the Shoe City Pro Men’s and Women’s Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 will begin the 2017 season at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier January 13 -15. Top seeded surfers are already confirmed and the fourth installment of this historically proud event has begun to take shape.

Last year’s runner-up and finishing at No. 56 on the QS in 2016, Nate Yeomans (USA) returns to the Shoe City Pro with some unfinished business. The San Clemente, Calif., native and former Championship Tour (CT) competitor knows the lineup of Huntington Beach all too well and will rely on that knowledge to kickoff 2017 with a good result.

“I’m really looking forward to this event and it’s awesome to start the year off with a local event,” Yeomans said. “Last year was nice to start the year off with a Final. It was bitter sweet, more sweet than bitter. I was in the Final with one of my best friends Pat [Gudauskas]. It was really rad, but of course you want to be the one that wins. I’ll be looking to redeem myself this year.”

Fellow former CT competitor Brett Simpson (USA) proved he’s still one of the world’s elite surfers after his wildcard performance at the Hurley Pro Trestles, eliminating 2016 WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW). After finishing No. 27 on the QS this season, Simpson is back to chase his ambitions of rejoining the Top 34. The Huntington Beach local surfs the pier nearly every day and will be a major threat to this event once more.

“I’m pumped up after a nice finish to the year,” Simpson said. “Besides not qualifying I felt healthy and in some good form so I’m really excited for this coming year. This comp was actually my first pro win, it was a Vans event then, but pretty sure same time and tradition so it always has a soft spot in my heart. Also competing at home in the winter is a change, and the waves have been pretty fun for this event so I’m excited for that.”

Meah Collins (USA) began what would be a momentous 2016 at the Shoe City Pro with a third-place finish and ultimately lead her to becoming the North America Women’s QS Regional Champion. The 17-year-old returns for a fresh season and another big year both in and out of surfing.

“I’m graduating in June and am finally going to be able to put 100 percent in my surfing so I’m excited to see how that affects my performance this year,” Collins said. “Being able to kickoff my year in my hometown at HB is such an advantage with all my family and friends support. I love the vibe with everyone on the Pier and the entire downtown HB set up.”

“I want to try to take advantage of my seeding from winning the North America title,” Collins added. “I’ve been surfing every day at home no matter what the conditions are.  I’m trying to keep an open mind, knowing that comps bring all kinds of conditions that I need to be ready for.”

Contest Director Scott Waring is elated to bring this contest back to life with its proud history. Waring has shown his dedication to surfing throughout the years and sees this as an opportunity to give back even more for the next generation.

“I feel that the Shoe City has a place for everyone’s dreams,” Waring said. “It’s where Kanoa Igarashi won his first-ever QS in 2014 and took the momentum to qualify into the big leagues. Kolohe Andino won in 2015 wanting to get tuned up and 2016 winner Pat Gudaskus did very well on the QS this season. I feel it’s very important to support both men and women’s QS events here at home for story’s like the past three winners and how it worked for them.”

The Shoe City Pro Men’s and Women’s QS1,000 event window begins January 13 – 15. For more information on the full 2017 World Surf League schedule, click here.

Patrick Gudauskas Wins 2016 Shoe City Pro Title

The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Shoe City ProQS1000 finished competition today in consistent four-to-six foot, rebuilding swell that provided plenty of high-scoring opportunity which surfers did not let go to waste. Ending a marathon day of competition with the men’s Final, Patrick Gudauskas took full advantage of the unrelenting waves and capped it off with an incredible win over Nate Yeomans (USA).

“I’m so stoked to come out of this one with a win at the first event of the year,” Gudauskas said. “It was so fun out there but wave choice was huge because there were some really long ones and if you snagged one of those then you had to make that tough paddle all the way back out. I’m just really psyched to win this contest after an incredible day of surfing – there were some really good battles all day and that just topped it off. Nate’s been surfing well this whole event and to come against him in the Final was great.”

It was not an easy road to the Final for Gudauskas, dealing with Chris Waring (USA) in a dramatic Semifinal. The San Clemente native sat and had to watch Waring take off on a last minute wave that he rode all the way to shore, but was unable to complete the finishing maneuver to pull off a comeback – putting Gudauskas into the Final.

“Waring knows this wave better than anyone,” Gudauskas said. “He was surfing so great out there and when he caught that last wave I wasn’t sure I would’ve been able to do anything out there if he had gotten the score. Those are the sickest heats to be a part of and really test you as a surfer. I had those all day long and couldn’t be happier to make them. I’m really excited for this year after that win.”

Fellow San Clemente surfer Nate Yeomans (USA) put on a showcase of high-performance surfing that took him all the way to the Final. Posting big scores, including a buzzer-beating Semifinal wave to overtake an in-form Dylan Goodale (HAW), Yeomans secured multiple excellent waves but couldn’t overtake Gudauskas.

“That Semifinal heat with Dylan was just scary,” Yeomans said. “I made a couple of mistakes and it all came down to the wire but I was able to get that score on the last wave. But, it’s those heats that really show if you stay confident and give it your best shot sometimes it’ll go your way – there’s just so many variables in surfing you have to be confident in your ability.”

“That Final with Pat was insane and it’s just a great way to start the year,” Yeomans added. “My goals this year are to win events and I was only one spot away from that in this contest. I’m really just focusing on each event at a time and giving it my all. I think by doing that, qualifying and everything will fall into place.”

Making a great run at the first QS title of 2016, Chris Waring (USA) nearly took down Gudauskas on his final wave of the heat – coming just short by .50. Looking back on a great performance, Waring will be able to take away some positives from this event despite the heavy blow of narrowly missing a Final.

“It’s cool that there’s a contest here and I really wanted to win so I’m definitely bummed,” Waring said. “Thought I had it but I got a little too weak on the end section. My legs were feeling really heavy and tried to come in with the paddle out being really rough but just got stuck in the inside. That last wave I needed an 8.90 and came up short with an 8.40 and it was over after that. Pat was ripping though so if I was going to lose to anyone it wasn’t a horrible way to go out.”

Facing off against the in-form Yeomans in the first Semifinal, Dylan Goodale (HAW) was on the wrong end of a buzzer beater and fell just short of a Finals appearance. Despite the heartbreaker, Goodale got his year off to a great start by winning his first two heats and will head back to Hawaii for the Sunset Pro with some momentum behind him.

“It feels good to get the year going and have some fun waves all the way through,” Goodale said. “It was great waking up early to get some surfs in and have a good start to the year. I came out to do some stuff with my sponsor and tried to time with this just to get the jersey on. Definitely wanted to do one heat better but it’s good to get some points and I’ll go back to Hawaii on Saturday to get ready for the next one out there.”

Men Post Massive Scores on Day 2 of Shoe City Pro

The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Shoe City ProQS1000 opened Day 2 with the start of the Women’s competition in beautiful four-to-six-foot, clean swell. Winter conditions delivered for a second day in a row on the Southside of the Huntington Beach Pier. Immediately following Women’s Round 1, the Men’s competition resumed with numerous excellent scores posted. Round 2 was completed as well as Round 3 to end the day — setting up the Quarterfinal draws for the Women and Round 4 for the Men.

In the most electrifying heat of the day coming at the end of Round 2, Pat Gudauskas (USA) and Colt Ward (USA) went wave for wave until the final minute with Gudauskas coming out on top. Finding an 8.93 to regain the lead with a 17.76, out of a possible 20, Gudauskas overcame Ward’s heat total of 17.10, who earned an 8.77 and 8.33.

“It was so fun and heats like that are what I did this event for,” Gudauskas said. “Colt was ripping and those types of battles are great to get you back into the competitive mindset — especially with it being the first contest of the year. As long as the waves are fun it’s going to be a great day and love putting up great heats like that. I want to come away with this one, that’s my main goal.”

Continuing to find success later in the day, Gudauskas had the field in a combination situation, meaning each surfer had to earn two new scores to overcome the difference, during the last heat of Round 3. Enjoying his first event back in a jersey, Gudauskas had to surf in both ideal morning conditions and signature afternoon Huntington Beach winds.

“It was such a good day, it’s always fun when you get to surf double heats even though it challenging with it being pretty low tide for the end of the day,” Gudauskas added. “Felt like I rode two waves for 500 yards and then had to paddle all the way back out after the run around which is always fun. Just looking at the heat draws I thought each of my heats today were going to be really tough. But, those waves I got in the last heat were really fun even with the change in conditions, I would’ve been out surfing it if there wasn’t a contest so it was just a great day to be in the water.”

Making it past Round 3 for the first time in his QS career, Lucca Mesinas(PER) was overjoyed when he came out of the water and found himself into Round 4. But, it was his Round 2 performance, earning a 16.10 heat total with an excellent 8.67 single-wave score, that set the stage for advancing on.

“It’s pretty great to have a good performance for the first competition of the year,” Mesinas said. “The conditions were amazing in the morning for my first heat but it got more difficult late in the day. There were some good waves still out there but you really had to find them and capitalize on it by giving the turns a lot of power and find that inside connection. I was happy to find a few waves that allowed me to do that.”

“This is my first QS that I’ve made more than two heats so that’s amazing to me,” Mesinas added. “I would always make the first one and lose the second but I’ve been training a lot to prepare for this event and it feels great to make it through to tomorrow.”

After winning his Round 2 heat in yesterday’s more turbulent conditions, Derek Peters (USA) returned to the water this afternoon with plenty of talent around him, including the in-form Colt Ward (USA), and won his second heat of the event – eliminating Ward. Earning his place into Round 4, the Huntington Beach local is ready for what tomorrow has in store to finish the competition strong.

“Both of my heats between today and yesterday just started deteriorating either the heat prior or during the heat but I surf windy conditions all the time here at home so I feel a little less confused on where to be in the lineup than maybe some of the guys from out of town,” Peters said. “It’s hard to hear with the wind and you have to kind of judge it yourself, but I knew it was a good score and stoked to get two really good waves out there. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow morning and getting some of the glassy conditions that have been coming through. I’m also psyched to be at home and sleep in my own bed and really get set for tomorrow.”

With another exciting day of high-performance surfing completed, the Shoe City Pro will crown its respective champions tomorrow. Look for live scoring at www.worldsurfleague.com and see who will win the inaugural Women’s title, and replace Kolohe Andino (USA) as men’s champion.