The WSL Longboard Tour Has A New Captain
Who started this year in the jersey at Sydney.
In May 2021, Devon Howard cruised off into the Malibu sunset, spraying kooks on his signature midlength after four years of managing the World Surf League’s Longboard Tour.
On Wednesday we learned there’s a new captain in town after the League announced that Kirra Seale has now been appointed Senior Manger of the Longboard Tour with Tory Gilkerson as the new Head Judge.
“This is an exciting chapter for longboarding, and I am confident in these two women at the helm,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSLSVPOTHOC (WSL Senior Vice President of Tours and Head of Competition). “I look forward to working with Tory and Kirra to continue to develop and grow WSL’s Longboard Tour and competitive opportunities for surfers.”
Devon is credited with revamping the Longboard Tour by changing its criteria and turning back the clock to timeless traditional logging, a departure from the hi-fi circus it had become criticized for. We’ll see if that’s the direction it continues to go with these new hires, but you sure can’t fault them for a lack of experience.
So what’s cool about Kirra?
Well for one, she’ll be stepping away from the middle of her competitive season on the Women’s Longboard Tour. She’d tied ninth in the first event in Sydney. For context, this would be like if ninth-placed competitor Courtney Conolouge bowed out to take over the Women’s Championship Tour. Granted, those are two very different tours with a large pay disparity, but it’s still a career change.
“I understand the competition as a competitor, but I also understand what is required from a business perspective for the WSL Longboard Tour to thrive,” Kirra said. “I am excited about my work to support longboarding and develop this competitive platform. Surfing is my passion and longboarding is my heart. This is not just a job. This is what I love.”
Tory is no slouch in the water either, except when she’s slouching purposely on the nose. Raised in San Clemente, she qualified for the Longboard Tour in 2012, won the world title in 2016 and an ISA title in 2018. Since then, she’s stormed the judge’s tower (not literally!) through the Qualifying Series, Challenger Series, Longboard Tour and CT. She even gave scores in Tokyo last year for surfing’s Olympic debut.
“My priority in this role is to provide clear and fair judging to the surfers,” she said. “I plan to make traditional longboarding criteria understandable and more transparent while working with the panel to promote the style of surfing that demonstrates the key elements of the criteria and the overall vision of traditional longboarding.”
Right in the nick of time, too, as the window for the Vans Duct Tape Invitational, the tour’s second contest, opens on August 3 at Huntington Beach.
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