With huge World Tour implications for local surfers, all eyes will be on Huntington Beach this weekend
A lot of surfing is going to go down in Huntington Beach by the time you read this, but here we go. The U.S. Open of Surfing has officially arrived, accompanied by the hopes of several local surfers who have been eyeing this moment all year long.
Starting things off with a bang, San Clemente’s Cole Houshmand has officially qualified for the 2024 WSL Championship Tour after winning his first heat of the Open. Winning the past two Challenger Series events, he currently fronts the men’s ratings and has now clinched his spot on tour next year, when he will join fellow San Clemente surfer Griffin Colapinto.
“The last three nights I couldn’t sleep; I’ve never been so nervous to make a heat,” Houshmand said afterward. “A lot of emotions. All that hard work paying off. All the sacrifices. The good and the bad. The wins and the losses. I had one of my hardest years last year, and I think everything happens for a reason; I’m super stoked I stuck with it.
And speaking of Colapinto, it’s also been announced in recent days that he clinched a spot in the upcoming WSL Finals at Lowers, as well as at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
“So excited to finally make the WSL Final 5 and qualify for the 2024 Olympics,” Colapinto shared on Instagram. “It’s been quite the journey. Thank you to the people that have believed in me all this time. Life is a roller coaster!”
A critical event in the WSL’s Challenger Series, in terms of valuable ratings points, the Open is the biggest, most important contest in North America. One of only six Challenger Series events in 2023, at season’s end, the top 10 men and top five women will graduate to the exclusive WSL Championship Tour.
As far as the 2023 U.S. Open goes, Houshmand has already done the hard work; meanwhile, things are a little more dicey for his peers.
Going into the Open, Kade Matson sat fifth on the Challenger Series. Unfortunately, he came up short on opening day and will now look to the final two events of the season to make his mark.
Veteran Kolohe Andino, who’s been instrumental in rallying the next generation, also bowed out on opening day.
Sitting right at the cut line in 10th on the Challenger Series is Jett Schilling. Looking for a big result in Huntington, he aced his opening day to advance into the Round of 32. Crosby Colapinto has also been waiting all year for this opportunity, and it showed when he posted one of the highest heat scores of the opening round.
On the women’s side of the draw, young Bella Kenworthy headed to Huntington with something to prove. A gifted skateboarder, she’s previously competed in the skate events at the Open, but this year she found herself in the main surf event.
Ranked 10th on the Challenger Series, a solid result will slingshot her into the Championship Tour qualification conversation.
Also making her presence known on Day 1 was Kirra Pinkerton, who progressed out of her opening heat. Currently ranked 23rd on the Challenger Series, she has some work to do, but she’s enjoyed considerable competitive success in Huntington over the years and should draw some comfort and confidence from that.
As of press time, the women’s Round of 32 hadn’t taken the water yet, but that’s when San Clemente’s top-rated female, Sawyer Lindblad, who sits seventh on the Challenger Series, will face Kenworthy, Canadian sensation Erin Brooks and Aussie Bronte Macaulay.
In terms of the surf we can expect to see this weekend, Surfline’s calling for a mix of moderate southwest ground swell and northwest wind swell. It’s forecasted that the surf will hang in the waist- to chest-high zone on Friday, Aug. 4, with a little bump in size going into Saturday, Aug. 5.