The inaugural World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Challenger Series is coming to its conclusion on the North Shore at Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park. Griffin Colapinto won the first event of the series at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Ezekiel (Zeke) Lau won the second event at the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira in Portugal, while Connor O’Leary surprised punters on the third stop in the series with a victory at the Quiksilver Pro France.
For the uninitiated, the WSL Challenger Series serves as a funnel for athlete qualification to compete in the 2022 WSL World Championship Tour (WCT). By now, some of the competitors have already qualified for the WCT, while others are fighting to score an elusive spot. Surfers on the other tier (bottom of the barrel, so to speak) simply need a win to keep their sponsors happy. No matter where on the spectrum they lay, a win at the storied Ali’i Beach Park is a top priority. Not one single surfer will take their foot off the gas, especially members of the Hawaiian contingent who each hope to cement their legacy on the North Shore. The latter throws a level of unpredictability into the event which could equate a windfall should a long shot take the trophy.
So who should you bet on? Below is a breakdown of the favorites, sleepers, and long shots that you can use to make a more educated wager. And be sure to sign up at one of the top online sportsbooks which are offering actionable odds on the event.
Note: The Action Sports Betting (ASB) crew will be on-site at Ali’i Beach Park to cover the Haleiwa Challenger. That means we will be in the middle of the action, and will be updating this article in real-time as we gain insight into who’s hot, who’s not, who may be injured, and who may have partied a little too hard the night before their heat/s. Check back often for updates!
Betting Preview for the WSL Haleiwa Challenger Series Men’s Surfing Competition Running from November 26 to December 7 2021
Where: Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park, Oahu
When: Waiting period runs from November 26 to December 7, 2021
Betting Lines: View sportsbooks offering WSL betting sites
Streaming Broadcast: WSL website / WSL YouTube
Online Commentary: BeachGrit
Surfing Podcast for Post-Event Reviews: SurfSplendor
John John Florence: EVEN
WCT Ranking: No.11 (did not compete on the WQS)
UPDATE (November 27/2021): New surfers were added to the roster on opening day. As of November 26, John John Florence has been added as a Favorite, with EVEN odds to win. His Round of 64 performance showed that JJF’s is ready to return to competition and is as much of a threat as ever.
Zeke Lau: 4/6 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.2 (14,250 points)
What a year Zeke Lau has had. He won ABC’s The Ultimate Surfer to score himself three wildcards slots on the 2022 WCT, then made it to the Round of 16 at the US Open of Surfing, before taking a massive win at the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira. He did falter with a 49th place finish at the Quiksilver Pro France, yet is still in a prime position heading Haleiwa. Zeke has already qualified for the 2022 WCT, but he is not one to rest. The Hawaiian warrior is focused and will be extremely hard to beat at Ali’i Beach Park where he has tons of competitive and free-surfing experience.
Lau’s competitive advantage is steeped not only in experience, but muscle-power and raw strength. The main break at this surf spot is rough when there is a big WNW swell. The hard right boasts a series of burly sections that abruptly ends in a closeout. Tag it, and you’ll add at least one point to your total score – otherwise you’ll crumble into the furious white wash. The wave is further intensified by a fast-moving rip that will have weak-shouldered competitors stuck paddling while stronger surfers claim priority position. Zeke is about as safe of a bet as it gets.
Kanoa Igarashi: 5/2 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.1 (15,500 points)
The Huntington Beach California wonder-kid who eschewed the American flag to compete for Japan in the 2021 Summer Olympics (won silver) returns to the North Shore where he is actually quite comfortable. Igarashi is an unequivocal Jack-of-all-Waves, yet master of none beyond the north and south side of the HB pier. This can work for and against him. He excels in mediocrity, which is actually a very important trait to have on the WCT and WQS alike. He can perform in peak conditions, but that fact rarely gets him through to the Final. Kanoa has the shoulders to manage a big WNW swell, but he can he match more powerful competitors like Lau or Michel Bourez (see below) if conditions are all-time? Either way, there’s no disputing the WQS No.1’s favorite status heading into this event. With a 3rd at both the US Open and at the Quiksilver Pro France he is hungry for his first win of the 2021 Challenger Series.
Griffin Colapinto: 5/1 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.9 (10,750 points)
Colopinto didn’t even compete at the last two stops on the Challenger Series, yet still sits in the top ten thanks to his win at the US Open. The ever-jovial yet meditative surfer arrived in Haleiwa ahead of schedule to get his feet wet at Ali’i Beach Park, where he has had past success. In 2017 Griffin scored second place at the Hawaiian Pro at Ali’i, which eventually led to him winning the VANS Triple Crown that year. The young star almost made it to the 2021 WCT Finals this year, but fell short of the Top 5 by just one spot. If he snuck into the Finals at Lower Trestles (his home break) he could have won the whole thing. Colopinto has the talent, energy, and competitive ability to win at Haleiwa.
Jack Robinson: 8/1 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.43 (5,750 points)
Robinson had a weird 2021 season on the WCT. Expectations were set far too high for this surfer, and he performed terribly until he finagled a much needed win at the final stop of the tour at the Corona Open Mexico. He now sits 12th on the WCT, but 43rd on the WQS after opting out of competition since the US Open. Robo is a serious threat at Haleiwa, as his video entry for the wave for the 2020 Digital Vans Triple Crown was pretty epic. He received a 9th at Ali’i in the Hawaiian Pro in 2018, but a 49th in 2019.
Frederico Morais: 10/1 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.24 (8,650 points)
Frederico Morais knows what it’s like to win a major event at Ali’i Beach Park, when he took the first leg of the VANS Triple Crown back in 2019. The 6’1 Portuguese competitor is coming off of a 5th place finish at the Quiksilver Pro France, and is heading into comfortable territory in Haleiwa to wind down the season.
Michel Bourez: 15/1 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.19 (9,000 points)
Michel Bourez has the strength and physique needed to throw massive amounts of spray over the walls that form at Ali’i when the swell is pumping. The Tahitian “Spartan” is fighting to requalify for the WCT and honestly, there could not be a better place for him to conclude the campaign. He will very likely make it through to the Quarterfinals, but can he go all the way? If you’re going to wager on a sleeper, Bourez is your best bet.
Connor O’Leary: 20/1 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.6 (11,000 points)
We know calling a 6th ranked competitor a “long shot” may seem odd, but let’s not forget that he jumped up from 100th on the WQS by winning the Quiksilver Pro France at the end of October. O’Leary is the definition of potential unfulfilled and he damn well knows it. Is this the moment he will finally break through his owns barriers?
Barron Mamiya: 30/1 Odds
WQS Ranking: No.96 (1,800 points)
Barron Mamiya has had a rough year on the WQS but he is capable of big things at a break he spends a lot of time at. He has been putting in extra work at this wave with Zeke Lau through 2020-21, with some notable free surfs. Mamiya scored a 9th in Haleiwa at the 2019 Hawaiian Pro, losing to the GOAT – Kelly Slater.
2021 WSL HALEIWA CHALLENGER MEN’S WINNER PREDICTION
Zeke Lau concludes his impressive campaign to qualify for the 2022 WCT with a big win at the Haleiwa Challenger Series.