Sawyer Lindblad and Keanu Asing Victorious at Jack’s Surfboards Pro
Updated: May 27, 2022
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif./USA (Sunday, May 1, 2022) – Sawyer Lindblad (USA) and Keanu Asing (HAW) emerged victorious at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro, first stop of the World Surf League (WSL) North America Qualifying Series (QS) 2022/23’ season, after impeccable finals day performances.
The two victors overpowered two-to-four foot swell in the iconic arena of Huntington Beach Pier’s southside lineup in their respective Finals over Zoe Benedetto (USA) and Tyler Gunter (USA).
Lindblad struck first in the Final but then turned in a 6.00 (out of a possible 10) and then backed it up shortly after with a 7.83 to put fellow confirmed Challenger Series competitor Zoe Benedetto (USA) in an early combination situation, meaning she needed two new scores to overtake Lindblad. But, in a brilliant exchange, Benedetto turned in a 6.67 on her forehand to get herself back in the heat with 15-minutes remaining. In the end, Benedetto ran out of time to hunt down the score required to take down Lindblad and the San Clemente, California competitor turned in her first win since 2020.
"It feels amazing, I feel like I've gotten so many seconds and I'm glad the waves provided in that last heat," said Lindblad. "Now I'm excited to go to Australia and hopefully do well there."
Sawyer Lindblad (USA) surfs in Heat 1 Quarterfinals of the Jack’s Surfboards Pro on May 1, 2022, in Huntington Beach, California. (Photo by Andrew Nichols/ World Surf League)
A jaw-dropping finals day showing from Lindblad included the day’s highest single-wave score of 9.17 in her Semifinal battle with Bella Kenworthy (USA) after overcoming Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) in the Quarterfinals to start all the action. Lindblad now prepares for the Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro beginning May 8 - 15.
The men’s Final got started with early throwaways before the former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Asing utilized his forehand attack to secure a 7.17 and pull away from Tyler Gunter (USA). Gunter was then in need of a near-perfect 9.21 but had twenty-minutes to overcome the deficit. But, Asing wasn’t to be denied his first QS win since 2017 with his world-class prowess in small waves and, despite Gunter lowering his requirement to a 7.71 in an attempt to catch Asing, defeated one of Newport Beach’s best. (Full interview in video above)
"Competing is in my blood and it felt good to get that killer instinct back," said Asing at the awards. "It's such a blessing to win and having my wife and daughter here is even better. It's my first win since she's been born and hopefully it's not my last."
Tyler Gunter (USA) (L) and Keanu Asing (HAW) (R) at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro on May 1, 2022, in Huntington Beach, California. (Photo by Andrew Nichols/ World Surf League)
Though Asing won't get any points as he surfs in the Hawaii region, the taste of victory was no less sweet. The now 28-year-old powered his way to the Final starting with day three standout Jabe Swierkocki (USA) before having to overcome two-time US Open of Surfing victor Brett Simpson (USA) in a stout Semifinal affair. Asing now waits for the next Hawaii regional QS event for a chance at claiming his spot onto the Challenger Series.
A dynamic finals day showing from Benedetto included the day’s highest heat total with her Quarterfinal performance of a 14.93 against fellow confirmed Challenger Series competitor Havanna Cabrero (PRI) before overpowering an in-form Ella McCaffray (USA) in the Semifinals. The 16-year-old completed her first full year on the QS during the 2021/22' season and earned herself a spot against some of the best from around the world as she will vie for CT qualification starting in just a week's time. But, the Palm City, Florida competitor is going in with an open mind and good head space.
"I haven't been in a Final in a while so and it felt good to find my rhythm," said Benedetto. "Making the Challenger gave me some confidence and I wanted to get his event under my belt before heading to Australia. It's not a bad way to start the new season with a runner-up and I'm so excited for the Challenger Series. It's only good pressure and I want to push myself against great surfers."
Gunter’s run to eventual runner-up started with good friend and sparring partner John Mel (USA) in a nail-biting Quarterfinal that Gunter overturned in the dying minutes – earning a 7.33 to turn the heat. The 22-year-old then had to deal with event threat Ryland Rubens (USA) in the Semifinals after he defeated 2019 event winner Crosby Colapinto (USA) in his respective Quarter. Gunter's result solidified a great start to the season and he now sits atop the North America regional rankings.
"It's pretty surreal to know I'm at the top of the rankings and I'd like to keep it there til the end of the season," said Gunter. "It was a great way to start and feels good to know I can still make Finals. My surfing's felt good but to actually get this result I know I can get to that level and that I deserve to be here."
Noteworthy performances from the likes of Simpson, and former Pro Junior Regional Titlist Rubens alongside emerging threats Kenworthy and McCaffray earned them Semifinal finishes, respectively. For Rubens, Kenworthy, and McCaffray, this marks a big start toward their Challenger Series campaigns as they begin the new season with 565 points.
Josh Burke Wins Rockstar Air Final Nod
Throughout competition, each air that competitors were scored on went toward qualification for the Rockstar Air Final. The Top 6 of the event through the Round of 16 battled it out in a winner-take-all, $2,500 heat to see who could claim the biggest aerial assault. Eventual winner Josh Burke (BRB) overtook Sam Coffey (USA), Ben Benson (USA), Ryan Huckabee (USA), Taj Lindblad (USA), and Hayden Rodgers (USA).
“I came in wanting a win and it’s not exactly how I saw this week going but it’s great to win that and make back some money,” said Burke. “Now it’s time to head back home and get to work and my training until the next event. I’d rather be going to Australia but I’m going to give this year everything to be there next year.”
For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.
Jack’s Surfboards Pro Women’s Final Results:
1 – Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 13.96 1,000 points
2 – Zoe Benedetto (USA) 9.17 800 points
Jack’s Surfboards Pro Men’s Final Results:
1 – Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.60
2 – Tyler Gunter (USA) 10.50 800 points
Jack’s Surfboards Pro Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 14.60 DEF. Bella Kenworthy (USA) 10.03
SF 2: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 10.63 DEF. Ella McCaffray (USA) 7.70
Jack’s Surfboards Pro Men’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Tyler Gunter (USA) 11.50 DEF. Ryland Rubens (USA) 10.07
SF 2: Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.66 DEF. Brett Simpson (USA) 12.10
Jack’s Surfboards Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 11.00 DEF. Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) 7.50
QF 2: Bella Kenworthy (USA) 13.73 DEF. Havanna Cabrero (PRI) 11.46
QF 3: Ella McCaffray (USA) 12.10 DEF. Autumn Hays (USA) 10.67
QF 4: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 14.93 DEF. Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 14.93
Jack’s Surfboards Pro Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Tyler Gunter (USA) 11.13 DEF. John Mel (USA) 10.57
QF 2: Ryland Rubens (USA) 12.77 DEF. Crosby Colapinto (USA) 11.46
QF 3: Brett Simpson (USA) 12.24 DEF. Kevin Schulz (USA) 10.17
QF 4: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.20 DEF. Jabe Swierkocki (USA) 8.67