World Surf League (WSL) North America announced today the official Qualifying Series (QS) and Pro Junior Regional Champions, as well as the 2023 Challenger Series and World Junior Championships qualifiers.
With the conclusion of the Barbados Surf Pro and Live Like Zander Junior Pro pres. by Diamonds International In Loving Memory of Zander Venezia, Sawyer Lindblad (USA) and Crosby Colapinto claimed the 2023 North America QS Regional titles in San Clemente, California, sweep, as well as Talia Swindal (USA) and Reed Platenius (CAN) earning their Pro Junior regional titles.
Pictured: (L to R) Crosby Colapinto (USA), Sawyer Lindblad (USA), Reed Platenius (CAN), Talia Swindal (USA) all claimed respective North America QS and Pro Junior regional titles. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
An incredible finish to the 2022/23' season witnessed Colapinto rise to the occasion and claim a massive at Soup Bowl to secure his Challenger Series spot, and in the process win the North America region.
A solid, Quarterfinal result at the Jack's Surfboards Pro, start to the year for Colapinto finished in a flurry of Finals Day appearances starting at the SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach pres. by Surfing For Hope QS 3,000 with a Semifinal result.
The 21-year-old then went on to earn another Semifinal at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro QS 1,000 before the biggest win of his young career earned him 5,000 points.
"It's insane, I missed the QS 3,000 in Virginia and I also set a goal for the year to win the rankings, and I won a QS 5,000 which was the only one of the year so it's pretty epic," said Colapinto. "I had a couple ankle injuries that made me miss a couple contests and it made me realize a lot about myself. Now I won a contest, on top of the ratings, and heading to Gold Coast for the Challenger so I'm really excited."
The San Clemente, California, competitors joins fellow San Clemente surfers Jett Schilling and Cole Houshmand (USA) alongside Evan Geiselman (USA), Josh Burke (BRB), Jabe Swierkocki (USA), and Dimitri Poulos (USA) as North America's Challenger Series representatives with the wildcard still to be determined.
A dominant, breakthrough year for Sawyer Lindblad (USA) gave way to multiple victories including two QS 3,000 wins at the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro and SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach.
The emerging North America star claimed five total Final appearances with another win at the Jack's Surfboards Pro and two runner-up finishes at the Vans Pro and BTMI Barbados Surf Pro pres. by Diamonds International. An incredible 13,240 points separated her by more than 2,000 points ahead of eventual No. 2 Zoe Benedetto (USA).
“I’m just really happy that I finally solidified it, it’s been such a long year and missing [Challenger Series] requalification in Haleiwa by one spot stings,” Lindblad told WSL. “But, it all went down for a reason and I’m happy to get some good practice at these regional events."
The 17-year-old, San Clemente competitor also joins another San Clemente representative Bella Kenworthy (USA), Costa Rica's perennial contender Leilani McGonagle, and Benedetto into the 2023 Challenger Series. After her first year of joining WSL competitions in 2021/22', Talia Swindal (USA) progressed her way to atop the Pro Junior rankings.
The Malibu, California, competitor's growth within the jersey was palpable as she accrued multiple excellent scores in different events which helped her earn a runner-up at the Ron Jon Roxy Pro Junior and fourth-place finish at the BTMI Live Like Zander Junior Pro pres. by Diamonds International.
"I'm so stoked, I can't believe it," said Swindal. "I came into the event with a wanting to make World Juniors but finishing off No. 1 is even better. I feel like Cocoa Beach was a step for me and that event put me back in rhythm, in a good space, and it was on. Making that Final was great but then coming to Barbados was amazing and I wish I could've done better in the Final but I'm still so stoked (laughs)."
In a rallying effort, Lindblad's runner-up ahead of Swindal at Soup Bowl helped garner enough points to overtake the event winner Noah Klapp (DEU) in a tie-break situation. Lindblad's average heat total bested Klapp by only tenths of a point as Lindblad returns to the World Junior Championships. A remarkable year-to-year difference for Reed Platenius (CAN) catapulted him to a maiden WSL Final at the SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach Pro Junior before his first-career victory at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro Junior. This marks Canada's first North America Regional Champion as Platenius' Semifinal result at Soup Bowl was enough to secure him atop the rankings over a heavily-contested field.
"I think I'm just having fun, I've met so many good people on this tour and everyone's so nice, and it just feels like I'm hanging out with everyone and surfing," said Platenius. "That's what surfing is all about so to be in the right mindset of every event you just start going. I think I finished 28th last year so to change that up and make a couple of heats was really fun. I'm really excited for this year and the years to come."
Joining Platenuis, Levi Slawson (USA) returns to the World Junior Championships stage once more as his second Pro Junior Final of 2023 led to a runner-up finish at Soup Bowl after a win at the SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach Pro Junior.
These surfers join the rest of North America's talent pool for the 2023/24' North America QS season beginning at the Jack's Surfboards Pro presented by Hydro Flask beginning April 6 - 9 at Huntington Beach, California.
North America Women’s QS Regional Final Rankings:
1. Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 13,240 points
2. Zoe Benedetto (USA) 11,073 points
3. Bella Kenworthy (USA) 10,970 points
4. Leilani McGonagle (CRC) 7,669 points
North America Men's QS Regional Final Rankings:
1. Crosby Colapinto (USA) 8,475 points
2. Jett Schilling (USA) 7,592 points
3. Jabe Swierkocki (USA) 7,333 points
4. Evan Geiselman (USA) 7,325 points
5. Cole Houshamand (USA) 6,912 points
6. Josh Burke (BRB) 6,473 points
7. Dimitri Poulos (USA) 6,365 points
North America Women's Pro Junior Final Rankings:
1. Talia Swindal (USA) 1,845 points
2. Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 1,800 points
2. Noah Klapp (DEU) 1,800 points
North America Men's Pro Junior Final Rankings:
1. Reed Platenius (CAN) 2,300 points
2. Levi Slawson (USA) 2,000 points