HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Monday, October 17, 2016) – The World Surf League (WSL) North America Region is proud to announce Kilian Garland (USA) and Meah Collins (USA) as the 2016 North America Men’s and Women’s Qualifying Series QS Regional Champions. Regional champions are decided using the point system based on the QS1,000 event breakdown at each competition within the region. When all was said and done, Garland and Collins accumulated the most points throughout the 2016 season at events within the North America Region.
Both now have seeding into the top level events on their respective QS tours, the QS10,000s and QS6,000s, for a chance at qualifying for the Samsung Galaxy World Championship Tour (CT). The two competitors claimed their titles at the last event on the 2016 schedule, the Essential Costa Rica Open Pro QS3,000, with their fellow contenders unable to claim the results needed to overtake the newly crowned champions.
The two will stake claims in the top level events only for the first half of the 2017 season. Following that mark, their current ranking will determine further inclusion into the top level competitions.
Garland ‘s first-ever QS win at the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS1,000 gave him the boost he needed to overtake the No. 1 spot on the rankings from Pat Gudauskas (USA). With Guduaskas not in attendance at Costa Rica, the title remained with the Santa Barbara, Calif. native for the first time in his career — counting his top five results toward his title with six events on the North America schedule.
“I am really stoked to have this opportunity and I feel blessed to show to a bigger audience and mix it up with the best,” Garland said. “I’m really looking forward to 2017. I will be putting ample energy into doing preseason workouts and getting my surfing up a couple of levels. It will be great to know I have a real shot at making the tour instead of just trying make it in the QS6,000s. I can’t thank my mom and dad enough for pushing me into my first waves and all the influence by my family, friends, and local surfers from the 805 area.”
Garland’s campaign began with an Equal 9th place finish at the Shoe City Pro — a result he would replicate at the Vans Surf Open Acapulco and Vans Pro before claiming his first-ever win at the WRV Outer Banks Pro. 2017 will be a fresh start for the QS veteran with his first opportunity at competing in the QS10,000 events since beginning his quest ten years ago.
“I really think my career is just getting started and I feel like I’m surfing better than I was as a teenager,” Garland added. “I know I belong there and can get results in the big QS events. I’ll be taking what I learned from the events this year — I dealt with a lot of setbacks in trying to get to events and work in between my next events this year. I am hoping that next year will be more smooth and planned out better. I’m looking forward to new venues and better waves, and can’t wait to see the 2017 schedule.”
But, the 29-year-old is not done with 2016 just yet as he prepares for the HIC Pro QS3,000 in Sunset Beach, Oahu, October 27 – November 9.
Meah Collins (USA) is just getting her career started and doing so in fantastic fashion. This marks the Huntington Beach, Calif. native’s first QS title at just 17-years-old as she continues to compete on the Junior Tour series. In the same position as Garland, Collins had the opportunity to close the door on her contenders but fell in Round 2, along with No. 2, and closest to Collins in points, Tia Blanco (USA). But, after the only remaining threat, Alyssa Spencer (USA), was dispatched in the Quarterfinals needing to win the event — the title belonged to Collins.
Since the women had five events on the 2016 schedule within region, only their top four results counted toward the title chase. A mere 40-points separated Collins from Blanco when the final event was wrapped and points were tallied.
“It’s still so surreal, I didn’t start the year thinking that winning the title would even be in my reach,” Collins said. “I’ve been going through so many different transitions this past year with my boards, going into my senior year of high school, on top of all the girls who rip from this region — I can’t believe I took the title. It’s been an amazing career for me so far. I won the [North America] Pro Junior title at 14 and now the QS title at 16. I feel like I’m on a pretty good track with my ultimate goal of making it on the CT.”
It was an up and down year for Collins who opened up with a third-place finish at the Shoe City Pro before preparing for a big summer of competition. But, the Los Cabos Open of Surfing would not prove fruitful for Collins preceding the righthand pointbreak of Punta Roca, El Salvador. It was at the Copa El Salvador Impresionante that Collins began turning heads and earned an Equal 9th, and once more at the Supergirl Pro.
Aside from her QS success, Collins also got a taste of the CT level at the Vans US Open of Surfing as a trials winner — rounding out an exceptional year for the up-and-coming California talent. The Huntington Beach surfer still has an opportunity to earn the Junior Tour title once again this year heading into Barbados November 10 -13.
“Definitely El Salvador [stood out to me] because that wave is incredible,” Collins added. “To have consistent, perfect 4-6 ft waves in a competition is pretty awesome. Also, the US Open was pretty special for me this year to win the wild card into the CT, and to have my hometown support me. I’m just taking it event by event with the same goal, focus and drive to win each one, but at the same time I love experiencing and learning new cultures at the different competitions. It’s the most rewarding part of being a surfer. To be able to travel as much as we do is a blessing no other sport has.”
Collins is not done competing just yet in 2016 with the White Buffalo Women’s Pro QS3,000 in Chiba, Japan beginning October 21 – 23.
Kilian Garland’s 2016 North America QS Counting Results: 2,020 points
Shoe City Pro: 9th Place
Vans Surf Open Acapulco: 9th Place
Vans Pro: 9th Place
WRV Outer Banks Pro: Champion
Essential Costa Rica Open: 33rd Place
Meah Collin’s 2016 North America QS Counting Results: 1,360 points
Shoe City: 3rd Place
Copa El Salvador Impresionante: 9th Place
Supergirl Pro: 9th Place
Essential Costa Rica Open Pro: 17th Place