The World Surf League’s SLO CAL open returned to Pismo beach in January for a week-long competition open to the public. This was the first edition of this year’s SLO CAL open, with the second competition returning to Morro Bay from Feb. 23-26. Surfers from all around the world came to compete in the men and women’s junior and qualifying series categories.
Some local surfers enjoyed the advantage of competing close to home, such as Arroyo Grande resident and sophomore Cal Poly student Sam Moore.
Moore had competed in the SLO CAL open at Pismo beach previously,as well as in contests in Morro Bay and Huntington Beach, California. Moore finished his last heat on Jan. 24, earning a total of 60 points from the contest, but not placing.
“I felt like I did pretty good, but I just came up a little short overall,” Moore said. “I did what i wanted to do pretty much”
Some of the competitors had to commute a bit further to get to the contest, such as Trevor Barry, who lives two hours away in Ventura.
“I’ve actually been going home everyday, doing the drive, sleeping in my own bed, eating my mom’s dinners and stuff, so that’s that plan — it’s not too far,” Barry said.
Throughout the day, people gathered on the pier to watch the surfers compete. One of the spectators, Justin, a local resident from Guadalupe, came out to check out the competition for the second day in a row.
“I try to support whoever’s running things locally… it’s good for our community,” Justin said.
Not only did the local open give surfers a chance to compete and locals a week of free entertainment, but it also intended to help the local economy and small businesses. At Pancho’s surf shop in Pismo Beach, just a block away from the pier, employee Stella Machado says she sees more people coming into town. Machado also noticed an increased interest in surfing as more contests are being held.
“I feel like in the past couple years more people have gotten into surfing,” Machado said. “I think when the whole pandemic thing happened, that’s pretty rad.”
The competition ended on Jan. 29 with Sawyer Lindblad winning both the QS and Pro Junior events in the women’s division, Dimitri Poulos won the QS Mens’ event and Levi Slawson won the Pro Junior category to kick off the season. Lindblad and Poulos were each awarded 3,000 points and $8000.
For those that missed the event or want to rewatch it, the livestream from each day is available on world surf league’s YouTube channel.