It’s a San Clemente sweep as next generation sets sights on upcoming Challenger Series.
By Jake Howard
After a solid run of contests that started on the California Central Coast before heading to Florida, the Dominican Republic and then Barbados, Crosby Colapinto and Sawyer Lindblad have clinched the WSL’s North American Qualifying Series Regional titles.
Making it a San Clemente sweep, they will now enjoy the benefit of being among the top seeds when the Challenger Series kicks off in Australia (more on all of that in a minute).
Colapinto’s breakout season was anchored by a big, statement-making win at last week’s Barbados Surf Pro. The 21-year-old kicked off his campaign with a quarterfinal finish at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro in Huntington Beach.
He went one better up north, enjoying a semifinal finish at the SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach, as well as the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro in Florida.
“I had a couple ankle injuries that made me miss a couple contests, and it made me realize a lot about myself,” Colapinto explained after his win in Barbados. “Now, I won a contest, on top of the ratings, and heading to Gold Coast for the Challenger, so I’m really excited.”
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Lindblad started her season off with three wins and never looked back.
Taking out the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro, SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach and Jack’s Surfboards Pro, she also added a pair of runner-up finishes to her resume, most recently in Barbados.
In the end, Lindblad clinched her No. 1 position by more than 2,000 points.
“I’m just really happy that I finally solidified it; it’s been such a long year, and missing (the Challenger Series) requalification in Haleiwa by one spot stings,” Lindblad told the WSL. “But it all went down for a reason, and I’m happy to get some good practice at these regional events.”
By finishing first in the North American Qualifying Series, Colapinto and Lindblad have punched their tickets to the Challenger Series.
Other local surfers to qualify include Jett Schilling, Cole Houshmand and Bella Kenworthy. The Challenger Series will kick off on Australia’s Gold Coast this May. At the end of the season, the top 10 men and top five women in the rankings will graduate to the WSL’s prestigious Championship Tour, where they’ll have a shot at vying for the world title.
Evening with Waimea Bay Lifeguard Luke Shepardson
This winter, North Shore lifeguard Luke Shepardson made history when he won the iconic Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay.
Working the lifeguard tower at Waimea the day of the contest, his supervisor ended up giving him the day off so he could go win the contest. On April 28, Shepardson will be in town to give a talk about lifeguarding, riding giant waves and more.
The event will also feature a screening of the new film Big Wave Guardians, written and produced by local legends Marty Hoffman and Jim Kempton. Hosted by the San Clemente Lifeguard & Junior Guard Foundation, it will take place at the Stance headquarters in San Clemente.
Doors open at 5 p.m., and admission is free for anyone 16 and under. Free pizza will be provided. Tickets and info available at scljgfoundation.com.
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