Some things have an uncanny ability to escape our minds, no matter how many times they’re reiterated. Anniversaries, due dates, which side your gas tank is on, Chick-fil-A not being open on Sundays – all regularly eluding our topical memory. The WSL’s qualification system? You bet it falls in there. Right next to Grandma’s birthday (October 14th, I think?). Yes, many are familiar with how it works, but few are certain. And each year, names like Richardo Christie and Italo Ferreira slip through the cracks of fair-weather surf fans’ attention and onto the world tour.
To avoid any future confusion going into the rest of season, let’s start from square one. There are 34 men on the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour – the top 22 from the year prior, 10 from the Qualifying Series, and 2 wildcards (which typically go to injured surfers on the CT who were unable to re-qualify). This year will be the first year on the Qualification Series where surfers will be awarded 10,000 points for winning a Prime (Now called QS 10,000), as opposed to last year’s 6,500 points – thus giving the rankings a more dramatic shake-up. With that being said, the magic number to qualify for next year’s tour will fall somewhere around 18,000 points, according WSL Tour Manager Al Hunt. As the start of the Vans US Open (a QS 10,000 event) rapidly approaches, let’s familiarize ourselves with the top 10 QS warriors who fall above the cuttoff as it currently stands. —Dayton Silva
Alejo Muniz – 22,250 pts.
Home: Santa Catarina, Brazil
Alejo is looking good for the 2016 season. He’s currently sitting pretty at the top spot on the QS, a solid near 6,000 points north of second, and shouldn’t have too much to worry about for the rest of the year, but keeping steady momentum.
Caio Ibelli – 15,300 pts.
From: Guaruja, Brazil
Smart contest surfer, driven, and relatively young. If on tour, Ibelli has the potential to throw a few solid blows with the world’s best .
Joan Duru – 13,050 pts.
From: Bayonne, France
The lone Frenchman. Joan’s got a style that’s easy on the eyes, he’s good in big waves, and has plenty of above-the-lip flash in his back pocket.
Alex Ribeiro – 13,020 pts.
From: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Like an Italo Ferreira and Jadson Andre smoothie. Alex has a sharp back hand and, of course, his air game on lock.
Davey Cathels – 12,670 pts.
From: Sydney, Australia
Strong rail game, good in the tube, and ain’t afraid to charge. Would be an interesting one to watch when the waves get good.
Jack Freestone – 12,550 pts.
From: Currumbin, Australia
We all know Jack’s had success on the Junior tour, the QS, and his love life, but it’s come time to see how he ranks up against the big boys.
Stuart Kennedy – 12,300 pts.
From: Lennox Head, Australia
Oh, you mean Adam Melling? Fast, explosive railwork with a knack for riding odd boards. Could be Kelly’s new Tomo buddy.
Mitch Coleborn – 11,200 pts.
From: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Freesurfer at heart, with unfinished business on the CT. Mitch has been on tour in the past (as an event wildcard), and is always a solid dark horse to throw in the mix.
Ryan Callinan – 10,450 pts.
From: Newcastle, Australia
Lanky, loose-limbed style that’s entertaining whether it’s in a jersey or not. Underrated and injured in the past, Callinan’s due for some time on the main stage.
Michael Rodrigues – 10,020 pts.
From: Santa Catarina, Brazil
Google him! It’s ok, we did too. Maybe not a familiar name (yet), but he’s got plenty of that familiar Brazilian pop. At this point, he can do nothing but surprise us.