Goodbye J-Bay; goodnight Cloudbreak.
While it hasn’t been officially announced yet, surfing’s worst-kept secret is that the Volcom Pro in Fiji slated for June has been cancelled. This would mean it’s the third world tour event iced this year, following the cancellation of the Quiksilver Pro, New York, and the downgrading of the Billabong Pro, J-Bay to a six star qualifying event last week. Late last year Rip Curl also cancelled their mobile Search event for this year. The 2012 tour will now be nine events and surfers will likely take seven results to their final tally.
When J-Bay was cancelled, Kelly Slater Tweeted: “Losing J Bay sucks, should’ve been last year when it was tiny, onshore and terrible. World titles just got a little easier for goofy footers.” On hearing the same news, Joel Parkinson told Stab: “I’m spewing. I mean, it’s the best event and one I really love going to. It’s sad, really – we don’t get to have a world tour event at what I think is the best pointbreak in the world.”
Ace Buchan, one of the tour’s 12 goofyfooters, has heard the rumours about Fiji, too. “I’ve heard what you’ve heard and I can’t confirm or deny. I hope it isn’t true, it would be a big shame. Losing J-Bay last week was heartbreaking. These are iconic waves, both would be in the best 20 waves in the world. We’ve already booked our spot on the island. I’m really hoping it’s still on.”
Without the official word being released, it’s difficult to get news on-the-record. There’s an ASP rule, y’see, about releasing news during another event. When Snapper is iced in a few days, word will hit the wire.
An industry source explained the heft of funding a world tour event: “It’s pretty hard to justify the return on investment. You’re spending north of $2m and there’s no tangible return. It’s definitely a good thing to do. It keeps the tour intact. It delivers a world champion. It’s good for core consumers which is really good for the industry. But, the costs associated with an event are outrageous. Volcom might have seen the real costs of running an event when they got into it and thought, “it’s gonna cost what?! You guys are kidding!”
And, what chance is there of more events evaporating? “There is a high likelihood that more events will go or be downgraded in 2013 pending what happens to retail,” says our source. “All businesses are looking a lot more closely at their expenditure and events are the first things to go.”
Still, there’s no news from the ASP. When asked about the rumour of the Volcom event at one of the world’s best lefts being cancelled, they told Stab: “The ASP has not been officially notified of any further event cancellations or downgrades aside from last week’s announcement regarding the Billabong Pro, Jeffreys Bay. At present, we have 10 ASP World Championship Tour events scheduled for 2012.”
And so we wait. – Sam McIntosh