Breaking: WSL Kills Snapper, Adds Two Brand New Tour Stops in Australia - Stab Mag

Breaking: WSL Kills Snapper, Adds Two Brand New Tour Stops in Australia

Plus, we have a new Commissioner.

news // Feb 15, 2021
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The WSL has just released a few major changes to its 2021 Championship and it’s chief administrative team.

Main points

  1. The Gold Coast Pro at Snapper Rocks has been canceled.
  2. Events at Narrabeen, NSW and Rottnest Island, WA have been added to the Australian leg, rounding it to an even four comps with Newcastle and Margaret River.
  3. The three recently-added WSL events (Newcastle, Narrabeen, and Rottnest Island) have been sponsored by Rip Curl
  4. Pat O’Connell is OUT as the WSL’s Head of Tours and Competition. He has been replaced by Jessi Miley Dyer


Gold Coast event canceled

Outside of the 14-day quarantine required of anyone entering Australia, most of the nation’s regulations regarding Covid-19 are state-dependent. Which is to say, whenever the WSL wants to run an event in Australia, they need approval from lawmakers in that particular jurisdiction.

Simply put, Queensland, like Victoria, was not particularly receptive to the idea of bringing a professional surfing tour inside their borders during a pandemic. Despite Andrew Stark and the WSL’s best efforts, they weren’t able to broker an agreement with the Queensland government and get the iconic Gold Coast event off the ground.

So…they needed a Plan B.

Narrabeen and Rottnest Island added to Australian leg

Remember what we said about the states having the final say? Well, since the WSL already had events approved in both New South Wales and Western Australian, they did what any logical entity would do: they found additional event locations within those more amenable states.

Over the past few weeks, Andrew Stark and his WSL APAC team have been buzzing around legislators like mosquitoes trying to get new locations approved across NSW and WA.

Their first successs was in Narrabeen on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The beach break is not only the most consistent in the Sydney region, it also has truly exceptional tubes on its day. With any luck, the WSL might get a whiff of this in their late-April (high season) window.

Unlike in Lennox, the Narrabeen event is likely to have grassroots support from the local surf contingency. While the wave is heavily enforced (by the likes of Damien Hardman, Tom Carroll, Nathan Hedge, Davey Cathels, and Simon Anderson), the community has an inherent respect for professional surfing and is happy to help it succeed. Just don’t expect to get any waves out there after the circus leaves town.

Next up is Rottnest Island. Eighteen klicks off the coast of Perth, “Rotto”—as it’s been colloquially termed—is a Western Australia hot spot that’s been heavily mythologized over the years.

The event will be held at Strickland Bay, an A-frame reef on the southern part of the island. According to local sources, the left is slightly longer and more conducive to traditional surfing (turns, tubes, etc.), though it ends on a dry shelf not dissimilar to right at Margs Main Break. Meanwhile, the right is shorter and punchier with a defined closeout. Hello, air section!

As far as locals go, well, it depends on your definition of “local”. The island itself has only 300 inhabitants, the majority of whom are incredibly hospitable (most work at tourist-dependent restaurants and bars, so they kinda have to be). Then there’s the cashed up crew from Perth, who make regular boat strikes out to Rottnest to surf (Rotto blocks most swell from the mainland, so this is the quickest option for Perth locals to get decent waves). According to our sources, both groups are genuinely excited to see the world’s best at the waves they’ve been surfing their entire lives.

Another fun fact: cars are forbidden on Rottnest Island, meaning we might see World Tour surfers pedaling their 24-board quivers on push-bikes!

Rip Curl Triples-Down

Devastated after losing their iconic Bells event, Rip Curl still wanted to be a part of the Australian Tour. Rather than throwing their name on one event, they decided to sponsor three—Newcastle, Narrabeen, and Rottnest (the last of which will bear their sacred “Search” title).

Pat O’Connell Out, Jessi Miley Dyer In

In February of 2019, Endless Summer II star, former CT staple, and Hurley exec Pat O’Connell was named as the WSL’s SVP of Tours and Competition—AKA “The Commissioner”. Today, he announced his resignation as he plans to “pursue new opportunities”.

This opens the door for long-time VP of Tours and Competition, Jessi Miley Dyer, to take Pat’s spot atop the Tours throne.

For anyone wondering about Jessi’s credentials, she’s a former:
World Junior Champion
CT Rookie of the Year
Honolua Bay CT winner
Surfer Rep
Board Member
Tour Manager

In short, very few (if any) people have been more deeply embedded in professional surfing than Jessi in the past decade and a half.


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