Some winners, but many losers. The ocean, she is cruel sometimes. 

Remember surf contests? Apparently, they are still a thing that exists in the world.

The Challenger Series final is happening now at Haleiwa. Real talk: The new Challenger Series thing has totally sucked me in. 

Qualifying Drama! I am here for it. 

Women’s round one? So totally done.

The surf was… not exactly dreamy. The wind mangled the lineup into a cubist painting or some other weirdly angled, bumpy thing. 

Contest surfing always feels extra cruel when the conditions are a crapshoot. Ha ha, good luck getting your scores! Hope you qualify! The ocean, she is cruel sometimes. 

The women near the qualifying cut all look to have made it through safely — unless I fucked up the math.

Which, it would not be the first time I fucked up the math. Math, not my thing. 

Bettylou Sakura Johnson looked fabulous surfing at home. Your fave reality tv stars Tia and Brianna both made it through round one. Dimity Stoyle, our fave commentator from the Australia leg last year, yep, she also advanced. Dimity looks great in Hawaii, so far. 

I did not envy anyone trying to get scores in the junky Haleiwa lineup, but I did sorta want to surf it. I feel like this is a safe place to confess that I like shitty surf, actually. There you are, just sitting in a lineup that looks like a box of puzzle pieces dumped on the floor at random and you have to tetris them together into something that looks like a wave. This is fun, in a stupid sort of way. 

The longboard and midlength revolution has only reinforced my love for surfing junk. The big board people do not generally paddle out when the waves are shit. They have standards, it seems. Weird. 

When the waves are bad, the big board people at home, doing important stuff like working on their resin tints or something. You go do that, sure. I’m going to surf all the waves, yes.

Okay, back to the contest which was the whole point.

Let’s look at some rankings, shall we?

You know you want to. It’ll be more fun than working on your resin tints. 

Starting at the top, Brisa Hennessey and Gabriela Bryan have already qualified for the CT and lead the rankings. Oceanside’s Caity Simmers is not far behind the leading pair. I’ll go ahead and say that I’m a fan of Caity’s style. More, please. 

The next ten women? So close.

Australia’s India Robinson beat Simmers to reach the final in France and rocketed up the rankings. She’s now fourth, but only 1000 points separate her from the next five women. Sawyer Lindblad, in fifth, ruptured her eardrum during a warm-up surf at Haleiwa, and is hoping to make her round two heat. If she doesn’t, she’ll likely fall below the qualification line. There are just so many women breathing down her neck. 

There’s a bunch of ties currently in the rankings, which makes the whole math part especially hard. But we shall persevere. 

I like Coco Ho’s chances of requalifying, especially with this final at Haleiwa. She’s eighth, sure, but almost equal on points with the next six women above her in the rankings. (There’s a three-way tie for eighth, by the way, among Coco, Australian Molly Picklum, and Californian Alyssa Spencer.) 

Looking further out, Bettylou had a bit of shocker in France, and sits thirteenth. With the rankings so tight, she’s not quite out of it. Surfing at home, she might do something special. 

There’s some straight fire match-ups setting up for round two. Spencer meets Pauline Ado who is less than 500 behind her in heat one. They also have Carissa Moore in their heat. Well, hello there. 

Then Simmers and Bryan meet in heat two. Tati West livens things up for Picklum in heat five. Lakey Peterson makes a long-awaited return to competition after a back injury. She’s in heat six with Robinson and Japanese surfer Sara Wakita, who won her round one heat. 

And oh hey, look at the final heat of the day: Caroline Marks, Bettylou, Coco, and Olympic bronze medalist Amuro Tsuzuki. I think I’m going to watch that one, yes. 

I do like this whole Challenger Series thing, even if it does bump around the calendar in strange ways.

Yes, Pipe Masters in January.

You know what?

I think we can survive this change just fine, actually. We are adaptable! We surf in the wind and shift with the tides and all that surf junk. I think we can do this, team. 

The mid-year cut should make this series even more spicy next year. I have thought for some time that the CT needed a good shake. The cut adds pressure to stay at the top. The Challenger Series provides the opportunity for new faces to make the cut. I like variety. 

You could always work on your resin tints instead, if you’d rather.

You do you.

I will definitely be judging, though.

Definitely. But I’ll just scream inside my head. 

You’ll never even know what happened. 

By Jen See