With back-to-back wins on the WSL Challenger Series, Cole Houshmand is on top of the world and rankings
Make goals, dedicate yourself, work your tail off, and good things often happen.
Such is the case with San Clemente’s Cole Houshmand, who’s been on an absolute rampage on the WSL’s Challenger Series as of late. Winning the Ballito Pro in South Africa, Houshmand has now won the past two Challenger Series events and sits alone atop the rankings.
“I’m speechless right now; that was the scariest heat I’ve had this whole event,” Houshmand said after defeating Portuguese journeyman Frederico Morais in a nail-biter final.
With limited opportunities to decide the event winner, Houshmand played the waiting game to perfection. With Morais in control throughout the heat, the rising San Clemente star found a wave in the dying seconds to get the score he needed and come away with his second win in as many events.
“Luckily, that wave came, but congrats to Frederico; he was ripping the whole event,” continued Houshmand. “It’s been amazing. Shout-out to everyone back home, Kolohe Andino and the ‘2% Boys,’ Kade Matson, who’s been ripping; it’s been a real support crew.”
In a town brimming with surf talent, Houshmand’s leading the charge in his own unique way. With the stature of a linebacker, his explosive brand of power surfing is on another level.
“We put him on ‘our program’ and over time, that shy, awkward kid hit a massive growth spurt, well beyond what’s considered optimum surfing physique,” shared surfboard shaper Matt “Mayhem” Biolos on Instagram.
“With relentless hard work (in and out of the water) he’s sculpted and manicured what would seem a burden into a bona fide blessing, building himself into a Frankenstein-sized surf monster, terrorizing measly human-sized, would-be surf stars, with not just sheer brute, but ample precision and dexterity,” Biolos continued. “I’m not saying this kid’s the best surfer on Earth. Not by any means … not yet, at least, but I honestly don’t think the judges have ever seen anything quite like him.”
For his part in the event, fellow Lowers regular Kade Matson ripped his way into the semifinals to come away with a very respectable third-place finish. Moving up nine spots in the rankings, he’s now well-positioned at fifth.
In a full team effort, the veteran Andino has played an instrumental role in motivating the boys and getting them focused and fired up.
“What a blessing it is to watch these guys surf and compete so strong,” Andino shared on Instagram after the Ballito contest wrapped. “Even better than that, they are great role models for the next generation of American surfing. Never thought of surfing being a team sport, but it’s pretty rad to root your fellow countrymen and women on. So proud of them!”
Other San Clemente surfers to keep an eye on are Jett Schilling, who’s ranked 10th, and Crosby Colapinto, who’s ranked 13th. At the end of the season, the top 10 surfers will graduate to the prestigious WSL Championship Tour and have a shot at the world title.
Up next, the Challenger Series comes to Huntington Beach for the U.S. Open of Surfing from July 29 to Aug. 6. After that, there are events in Portugal and Brazil in October.
If everything works out, there’s a very real possibility San Clemente could see four men on the Championship Tour in 2024.
Not only that, Sawyer Lindblad and Bella Kenworthy are both knocking on the door of qualification for the women, and a little further down the ratings sits Kirra Pinkerton. Lindblad is ranked seventh, Kenworthy is ninth, and Pinkerton is 23rd. The top five women at season’s end make the Championship Tour.
Three events to go. Will we see history made with more local surfers qualifying for the Championship Tour than ever before? Hopefully.