A promising forecast may provide fireworks to end the Challenger Series season and determine the final Championship Tour spots. Credit: © WSL / Heff

  • Ezekiel Lau, Liam O’Brien On The Verge of Championship Tour Qualification Once More
  • Alyssa Spencer Within Grasp of Making CT Dream A Reality 
  • Long List of CT Hopefuls Converge Upon Oahu’s Iconic North Shore  
  • More Available at WorldSurfLeague.com

The holding period for the Haleiwa Challenger presented by The Hawaiian Islands, the final stop of the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Challenger Series (CS), will open tomorrow, November 26, and run through December 7, 2022. Championship Tour (CT) hopefuls will join some of the world’s best as they look for career-defining results on the iconic North Shore of Oahu. Haleiwa is a proving ground in the surf world, and has both made careers and broken them. The famous break now sets the stage once more for an all-important conclusion to the Challenger Series.

This event marks South Shore, Oahu’s own Ezekiel Lau’s opportunity to earn his way back among the world’s best in 2023, after falling below the Mid-Season Cut in 2022. Lau’s thrilling win at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing put him back on track to requalify, but a setback in both Portugal and Brazil has put him at risk of dropping below the top 10 on the rankings. However, the 28-year-old is back in familiar waters and at a venue where he’s already made one previous Final. 

Lau will have to square off with fellow requalification threat Joao Chianca (BRA), Tahitian powerhouse Mihimana Braye (PYF), and a Round of 80 advancement, in his debut Round of 64, Heat 2 affair. Also, CT hopefuls Ramzi Boukhaim (MOR), Ian Gentil (HAW), Maxime Huscenot (FRA), and Dylan Moffat (AUS), are looking for a big result alongside 2022 rookie Liam O’Brien (AUS), who suffered an injury before ever getting to don a CT jersey.

“There’s so many talented surfers on the Challenger Series and I think it takes a lot of resilience,” said O’Brien. “And a little bit of luck, that’s the two biggest factors for me to qualify. You just have to have the ability to keep getting knocked back and not really change your approach. I never got to surf a heat on the CT so that’s definitely where I want to get back to, it’s the pinnacle of professional surfing.”

But, reigning Haleiwa Challenger victor, 2x WSL Champion, John John Florence (HAW), Rip Curl WSL Finals contenders Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), and Ethan Ewing (AUS), and more of the world’s best are back to make the challenge that much more difficult. 

Along with already confirmed CT competitor, Caitlin Simmers (USA), Alyssa Spencer (USA) hopes to be the newest Californian to join the world’s best. Spencer’s remarkable run through the North America Regional Qualifying Series (QS) season garnered her four wins in 2022 alone, and she was finally able to carry that momentum into the Challenger Series to win the Corona Saquarema Pro. 
“I am so excited for this event and feeling confident coming off of Brazil,” said Spencer. “I’m trying not to think about qualification and scenarios, I just want to go out and show my best surfing. Haleiwa is one of my favorite waves here and I feel pretty comfortable out there so I am really looking forward to this event and the challenge ahead! Whatever happens I will be proud of the year I put together but I’m hoping to end this year on another good result and get myself on tour.”

Fellow CT hopefuls Teresea Bonvalot (PRT), Sophie McCullough (AUS), Vahine Fierro (FRA), and more will join Spencer in their search to become 2023 rookies. But, they will have to fend off requalification threats Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW), Molly Picklum (AUS), and Bronte Macaulay (AUS), along with 5x WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and 2022 CT Rookie of the Year Gabriela Bryan (HAW).

Strong Forecast in Opening Days

The Haleiwa Challenger presented by The Hawaiian Islands has a strong forecast to start the event window with plenty of swell filling into the North Shore. According to Surfline, the recent north, northeast swell eases, but a reinforcing northeast swell is right on its heels. However, unfavorable winds are still on the forecast for opening day of competition before becoming more moderate into Sunday, November 27 with 6 – 10 foot, northeast swell. 

Event organizers will convene at 7:30 a.m. HST to determine a possible 8:00 a.m. HST start for competition.

The Haleiwa Challenger presented by The Hawaiian Islands is proudly sponsored by At Home in the Hawaii Islands, Hawaiian Tourism, Shisiedo, Havaianas, Specturm, 805, Alaska Air, Turtle Bay, Fu Wax, and Hydro Flask.

Watch LIVE
The Haleiwa Challenger will be streamed LIVE beginning November 26 – December 7. The contest will be broadcasted LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.comWSL’s YouTube channel, and on the free WSL app. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners. 

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

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.