Surfing Santa Cruz Since 1969

Alyssa Spencer and John Mel Win at SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach

  • 5 min read

Remarkable wins from John Mel (USA) (L) and Alyssa Spencer (USA) (R) earned them the 2022 SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach titles. Image credit: / WSL / Runamuck Photography

Monday, January 31, 2022
Spencer Claims Back-to-Back Regional Wins, Adds Central Coast Win to Her Career. Mel Earns Second-Career QS Win, First On Home Soil. Levi Slawson and Sawyer Lindblad Garner Runner-Up Finishes. Notable Finishes for Cam Richards, Taj Lindblad, Caitlin Simmers, and Leilani McGonagle.
Alyssa Spencer (USA) and John Mel (USA) emerged victorious at the World Surf League (WSL) North America Qualifying Series (QS) SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach presented by French Hospital Medical Center QS 1,000. Two-to-four foot, clean morning conditions provided ample opportunity for competitors to thrive with Spencer and Mel rising to the occasion amid stacked fields, taking down defending event winner Sawyer Lindblad (USA) and an in-form Levi Slawson (USA) in their respective Finals.
Lindblad struck first in the all-goofyfooter battle against still current North America No. 1 Spencer as low tide conditions forced the best out of both competitors. Spencer’s forehand attack paved the way to overtaking the defending event winner at the halfway mark, accruing a 10.00 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Lindblad wasn’t going down with a fight and earned a 6.25 (out of a possible 10) to close the gap under the 10-minute mark but the waves didn't provide her another opportunity and Spencer elevated her lead to claim a big win.
"I'm super happy right now and this whole contest was just super fun," said Spencer. "I came into it without a lot of pressure because I've had a couple results early on in the season. So it was nice to really focus on cleaning up my contest surfing and just pick the best waves." Full interview in video above
Spencer stays atop the North America rankings with a comfortable lead and all but solidified her place back into the 2022 Challenger Series with a win today. The Encinitas, California competitor nearly found herself among the world’s best at the end of 2021 and knows what it takes to give herself a chance at doing it again.
A tight battle in the men’s Final unfolded between Mel and Slawson, trading the lead multiple times in the first half of the heat with equal heat totals, and the nudge going to Mel with a higher single-wave score. The Santa Cruz, California competitor in Mel remained strong and added to his lead slightly to extend Slawson’s requirement as the clock wound down under the five-minute mark. Ultimately, it was Mel earning the chair-up and his second-career QS victory - his first on California sands.
"I'm absolutely stoked, I came into this event wanting to win it and I've been working really hard," said Mel. "My coach Matt Myers and I have been putting in the work preparing for these moments pretty much. I want to get into the Challenger Series by the end of the year. Also, I want to shout out to my parents who own Freeline Surf Shop. They're the ones funding me for all these contests and I'm super stoked for that." Full interview in video above
A show of strong nerves was on full display for Mel with time running out and needing to secure a score over East Coast talent Evan Geiselman (USA) in a Quarterfinal battle before having to take on an in-form Taj Lindblad in the Semifinals. The win catapults him to No. 2 on the North America rankings, well within the Challenger Series qualification cutoff, but has four more events on schedule starting in Morro Bay.
The defending event winner Lindblad put on a showcase in her Quarterfinal performance, garnering a near-perfect 9.00 over former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Sage Erickson (USA) before facing fellow North America rankings threat Caitlin Simmers (USA) in a Semifinal battle. Though she fell shy of back-to-back Pismo Beach Finals, the San Clemente, California competitor now sits at No. 4 on the regional rankings spot moving forward with four events under her belt.
"It was a really fun event and that was a super close heat," said Lindblad. "I only needed a four at the end and the waves just didn't offer anything. But, I'm stoked to get a couple good waves throughout today and I'm pretty relieved to get a result here. Hopefully I can do well at Morro Bay too."
An incredible Quarterfinal showing from Slawson earned him a round-best, excellent 8.50 in the dying seconds over Jett Schilling (USA) and notched an impressive Semifinal win over East Coast threat Cam Richards (USA). This marks a career-best QS result for the Encinitas, California surfer after falling just short of a maiden victory as he continues to build experience among the region’s best and making himself known as a threat - currently sitting at No. 5 on the North America rankings.
"A Final is always and I would've liked to win but John (Mel) played the right game in the Final," said Slawson. "I'm happy and now looking forward to the next couple of events, get myself into that Challenger Series qualification. I was over in Hawaii for awhile and hanging with my buddy Taro Watanabe who won the last event in the Outer Banks, and he was just talking about wanting more points so it's good to have those friendly rivalries to push you."
Notable Finishes for Richards, Lindblad, Simmers, and McGonagle
A crucial 560 points go to the likes of Richards, Linblad, Simmers, and McGonagle moving forward in hopes of staying with Challenger Series qualification.
This marked a season-best finish for South Carolina's Richards, who eliminated event threat Nolan Rapoza (USA) in the Quarterfinals, along with Costa Rica's McGonagle and San Clemente's Lindblad. This result keeps Simmers within the Top 3 of regional rankings as she looks to return to the Challenger Series and take on some of the world's top regional talents once again.
The next North America Regional QS event will be the SLO CAL Open Morro Bay pres by French Hospital Medical Center beginning February 24 - 27.
Women’s SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach Final Results:
1 – Alyssa Spencer (USA) 10.75     1,000 points
2 – Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 10.10      800 points
Men’s SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach Final Results:
1 – John Mel (USA) 11.50              1,000 points
2 – Levi Slawson (USA) 8.75            800 points
Women’s SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 13.15 DEF. Caitlin Simmers (USA) 12.00
SF 2: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 14.50 DEF. Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 9.30
Men’s SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Levi Slawson (USA) 15.50 DEF. Cam Richards (USA) 13.55
SF 2: John Mel (USA) 13.55 DEF. Taj Lindblad (USA) 12.25
Women’s SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 14.25 DEF. Bella Kenworthy (USA) 12.00
QF 2: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 15.50 DEF. Sage Erickson (USA) 8.40
QF 3: Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 13.35 DEF. Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 11.00
QF 4: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 15.50 DEF. Autumn Hays (USA) 10.10
Men’s SLO CAL Open Pismo Beach Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Cam Richards (USA) 15.00 DEF. Nolan Rapoza (USA) 13.50
QF 2: Levi Slawson (USA) 15.25 DEF. Jett Schilling (USA) 13.10
QF 3: Taj Lindblad (USA) 11.50 DEF. Kade Matson (USA) 9.50
QF 4: John Mel (USA) 12.90 DEF. Evan Geiselman (USA) 12.50

For more information, visit To connect via social media, follow on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Social media:


Photo gallery