Opening day of the World Surf League (WSL) SLO CAL Open at Morro Bay hosted by Surfing For Hope, a men’s and women’s North America Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, awaits at one of California’s Central Coast’s gems, Morro Bay.
Pictured: "The Rock's" ability to hold XL swell makes it a proving ground on the North America QS schedule. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
The venue will test competitors’ ability to read the deep water, rock-reef break in its cold waters with a mix of solid swell and wind on the forecast.
This marks the women’s eighth regional event alongside the sixth men’s event as the race toward Challenger Series (CS) qualification narrows.
“The Central Coast is fired up to host the third annual SLO CAL Open at Morro Bay," said Event Director Andy McKay. "Morro Rock is one of the most challenging spots on the North American QS schedule. Late February is always cold and ominous, and usually has solid swell. To win at Morro Bay, you have to be a well rounded competitor."
Since its inception in 2020, the event continues to bring a live broadcast to showcase some of North America’s emerging and veteran talents looking to earn valuable points, and an event title, to their name. And, with the recent SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach QS 3,000 still fresh in competitors’ mindsets, this event offers the opportunity to build on that success, or make up ground lost.
Former Championship Tour (CT) star Sage Erickson (USA) returned to winning form last year at this event with her first WSL victory in three years. The now 32-year-old still maintains the competitive fire to show the next generation what it takes to compete among the world’s best, while enjoying the process and keeping the jersey on.
“I've always loved and thrived on surfing in California,” said Erickson. “Even though Morro Bay is not my hometown, it's not far from Ventura and I just love being in the cold waters. I love the raw element to it. I'm so stoked we have this California series with Pismo and Morro Bay, it's just super cool.”
Erickson will take on the likes of former event winner Izzi Gomez (COL), QS threats Autumn Hays (USA), Ella McCaffray (USA), Makena Burke (USA), 2022 Challenger Series competitor Havanna Cabrero (PRI), and more.
Ventura, California's Dimitri Poulos surged through the SLO CAL Open at Pismo Beach and now looks to keep that momentum through Morro Bay.
The 20-year-old’s maiden WSL victory catapulted him atop the North America, but Poulos is keeping his eyes on the present with a critical finish to the year still looming.
"Honestly I feel like [that win] was a relief and that I know I can do it now which translates to confidence,” said Poulos. “I'm feeling good for the rest of the year and definitely learned a lot, but now I'm really excited for Morro Bay. Going into this event, it's the same guys pretty much, and I'm just trying to put that last result out of my head and kind of forget about it in a way.”
A heavily-contested field awaits Poulos in the cold waters of Morro Bay with the likes of defending event victor Kei Kobayashi (USA), 2022 Challenger Series notables Jett Schilling (USA), Nolan Rapoza (USA), Alan Cleland (MEX), Crosby Colapinto (USA), and Kade Matson (USA), alongside emerging threats Will Deane (USA), Cannon Carr (USA), Wheeler Hasburgh (CAN), and plenty more.
Event organizers will convene at 7:30 a.m. PST to determine a likely 8:00 a.m. PST start to competition.
The SLO CAL Open at Morro Bay hosted by Surfing For Hope will open on February 23 and hold a competition window through February 26, 2023. Once called ON, the event will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app.About the WSL
The World Surf League (WSL) is the global home of competitive surfing, crowning the undisputed World Champions since 1976 and showcasing the world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves. WSL is comprised of the Tours and Competition division, which oversees and operates more than 180 global competitions each year; WSL WaveCo, home of the world's largest high-performance, human-made wave; and WSL Studios, an independent producer of unscripted and scripted projects.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
About Visit SLO CAL
Visit SLO CAL is the non-profit countywide destination marketing and management (DMMO) organization for SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County, CA). A destination organization often referred to as a destination marketing or management organization, convention and visitors bureau or tourist board, is responsible for promoting a community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through the impact of travel, they strengthen the economic position and provide opportunities for people in their community. We are mindful of our resources and seek to enhance the SLO CAL lifestyle.