The men's Qualifying Series (QS) is seeing growth once again, with the addition of the Jack's Pro QS1,500. In honor of their 60th Anniversary, Jack's Surfboards will be stepping up as a major sponsor and taking over the Huntington Beach Pier March 31 - April 2 -- complete with a live webcast.
For 36 years, Jack's Surfboards co-owner Jamal Abdelmuti has been part of the retail empire that's been a key part of the Huntington Beach community since 1957.
"We are beyond thrilled to be sponsoring a QS-level event and better yet to have the event in our own backyard," Abdelmuti said. "We are excited to be able to give surfers another opportunity to earn those valuable QS points and we are counting down the days to the event. Our business would not be where it is today without the strong relationships we have built over many years and the support from the community."
One of those up-and-coming surfers looking for valuable QS points is 18-year-old Jordy Collins. Collins began turning heads at last year's Essential Costa Rica Open QS3,000 with a Quarterfinal result and is ready for his first year as a full-time QS competitor.
"QS events like this are super important just to stay in contest mode and keep you fresh," Collins said. "It's also nice to be competing somewhere I've competed my whole life, I've probably had more contests at Huntington than anywhere. Last year was a huge confidence booster for me especially after Costa Rica. I wasn't even chasing the QS full-time and ended up getting some good points so it just made my dream of competing on the world tour a little bit more manageable."
"This year I want to qualify for the 10,000s so I can really start making a run at the tour next year," Collins added. "It's just going to take me grinding away at these lower level events all year long to accomplish it."
Contest Director Scott Waring has played a vital role in making events happen for these competitors, putting on the Shoe City Pro Men's and Women's QS1,000 once again earlier this year. Waring's taking that experience, and passion, into the inaugural Jack's Pro QS1,000 to continue the building process with its team of owners.
"I've known Jamal [Abdelmuti], Bobby [Abdel] and Ron [Abdel] for 30 years and they have always supported the athletes and the sport," Waring said. "Jack's is huge in the surfing community because of this continuous support. These QS events are important because even more than points, young surfers need to learn from their peers. Looking up to the older local ripper and testing your skills against them builds confidence and experience. I want to work toward providing more opportunities at the QS level here at home."
No one knows the importance of inaugural events more than the WSL North America General Manager, Meg Bernardo, and Tour Manager, Brian Robbins. Bernardo and Robbins work alongside the contest directors in helping shape these events from the ground up to continue building the schedule in coming years for both the QS and Junior Tour.
"We know how important these regional events are for our surfers to gain points and experience within their home region," Bernardo said. "It is our hope to keep improving on existing events and create new opportunities for competitors that will help them achieve their goals. We're really excited to get the Jack's Pro on the schedule to do just that and give some up-and-coming guys a shot at competing. A QS1,500 level contest really gives these competitors a chance to build their international seeding into next year and keep progressing."