Stab Magazine | Bells Beach or Margaret River To Get Cut From World Tour?

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Bells Beach or Margaret River To Get Cut From World Tour?

Is Australia about to lose a World Tour event?

news // Apr 20, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Rumours are swirling that Australia is set to lose a World Tour event when the WSL’s event licenses are up for renewal in 2017. 

“Yeah, it’s hard not to (hear the rumours),” said Surfing Western Australia CEO, Mark Lane. “If they did (drop an event) you’d be hoping you’re not the guy that gets dropped off. That would be shattering.”

The loss of an event from the Australian leg would likely pit the Margaret River Pro against the Rip Curl Pro, Bells. Surfing Victoria CEO, Adam Robertson, said he was also aware of the rumours: “You hear those rumours but I don’t know how factual they are,” he said. “How true they are, that’s not for me to answer. That’s for the WSL to answer.”

The WSL neither confirmed nor denied the rumours, replying, via email: “The WSL Commissioner’s Office, in ongoing discussion with the athletes, oversees all technical aspects of the sport – venues, scheduling, formats, judging, rankings, etc. All aspects, again with ongoing discussion with athletes, are under constant review to ensure the WSL continues to deliver the world’s best surfing in the live arena. With regards to venues and scheduling, the 2017 schedule will be released in November of this year (as we do each season).”

Bells 3 Cestari

The loss of an event from the Australian leg would likely pit the Margaret River Pro against the Rip Curl Pro, Bells.

Photography

Photo: WSL/Cestari

Prior to the formation of the World Surf League, surfing’s previous governing body, the ASP, maintained that no country should have more than two World Tour events. 

Margies 1 Kirstin

“If they did (drop an event) you’d be hoping you’re not the guy that gets dropped off. That would be shattering.”

Photography

WSL/Kirstin

“There was a year when all those events didn’t take place,” said Mark Lane. “I said we can put the money together to lift (the Margaret River Pro) to that next level if the ASP were open to that. After 12 months of to’ing and fro’ing that happened, so we find ourself in this position now. We’d be hopeful not to be the last guys on and first guys off.”

The Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach, meanwhile, is Australia’s oldest professional surfing contest, beginning in 1973 with a Michael Peterson win. It has struggled for wave quality in recent years with the event window falling just outside the premiere swell and wind season for the wave. Organisers are now pushing to increase the amount of days nearby Winkipop can be used during the event window. Currently, two days of the event can be run there (or four half days) but none of it can take place during the Easter Long Weekend, which has traditionally seen much of the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach action go down. 

Bells Winki Kirstin

Organisers are now pushing to increase the amount of days nearby Winkipop can be used during the event window. Currently, two days of the event can be run there (or four half days) but none of it can take place during the Easter Long Weekend.

Photography

WSL/Kirstin

“We are just in a process now of hoping to use Winkipop more, but also keeping the spectator experience a really good one for those who are coming to the event,” said Adam Robertson, referencing the thousands of Victorians who turn out to the spectator-friendly Bells Beach venue (Winki breaks in front of a cliff, limiting spectator interaction).

After starting out as a WCT event back in 1985, the Margaret River Pro was downgraded to QS status after the ASP brought in its rule forbidding more than two events in a region. This year the contest added the world-famous (and famously fickle) righthand reef, North Point, to its list of back-up venues – The Box being the other. 

Margies 2 Cestari

This year the contest added the world-famous (and famously fickle) righthand reef, North Point, to its list of back-up venues – The Box being the other.

Photography

WSL/Cestari

“We have characteristics unique to this region that we wanted to show off,” says Mark Lane. “Margaret River, an A-Frame peak is not bad bread and butter, but there are so many really good waves around here, so we brought The Box on and after four months of work we were able to add North Point for two days in the event window this year.

Bells 4 Kirstin

“We are just in a process now of hoping to use Winkipop more, but also keeping the spectator experience a really good one for those who are coming to the event.”

Photography

WSL/Kirstin

“I’ve thought about if they did (cut the event), what would be the reasons behind it, and sure I could see a couple reasons why they would do that, but I’ve thought of more reasons why they wouldn’t do that.”

Margies 4 Kirstin

“I could see a couple reasons why they would do that, but I’ve thought of more reasons why they wouldn’t do that.”

Photography

WSL/Kirstin

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