Stab Magazine | Just Released: The WSL's Official 2019 Format Changes

Just Released: The WSL’s Official 2019 Format Changes

Fasten your seatbelts! 

news // Mar 16, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The WSL just released their official plans for the 2019 Championship season, including equal pay for male and female competitors, the chance for Olympic qualification, and a new competition format.

The former points (equal pay and Olympic qualifications) have both been public knowledge for the better part of a year. However, this is the first time that the format changes, which were first revealed by Gossip Girl this past December, have been stated by the WSL.

For those who’ve inevitably forgotten, here’s a quick refresher on how future CT competitions will be run.

360a71b0 a9ce 407f 8de0 1ab3646ba681

Men’s CT Format Updates

Round 1 will still have twelve heats with three surfers in each heat. Athletes who place first or second in Round 1 heats will both directly advance to Round 3, which will differ from the previous format where only first place advanced to Round 3. 

Round 2 will now have four heats with three surfers in each heat, as opposed to the previous format of 12 heats with two surfers in each heat. Of the three competitors in each heat, the lowest-placing surfer in the heat will be eliminated in Equal 33rd place. 

Round 3 will now have 16 heats with two surfers in each heat, as opposed to the previous format of 12 heats with two surfers in each heat. The lower placing surfer will be eliminated in Equal 17th place. 

Round 4 will now have eight heats with two surfers in each heat. The lower placing surfer will be eliminated in Equal 9th place.

The women’s format will be identical but with half the competitors.

This system was designed by the surfer’s union (AKA World Professional Surfers) and serves to 1. Create a more streamlined, linear path to the finals, 2. Give surfers more opportunities to advance (only four surfers will be eliminated after Round 2), and 3. Potentially decrease the run-time of CT events.

It’s true that the new format requires the same number of heats to finish an event (47 for the men, 23 for the women), however, the WSL has added a clause stating that heats after the second round can ‘overlap’ with one another, a la the Pipe Masters. This means less waves wasted and a shorter required swell window for an event, which is a serious win-win.

In fact, we feel the need to emphasize: this decision to alter the format and overlap heats could vastly increase the entertainment value of CT events.

Moreover, and on a funnier note, we can’t wait to re-introduce “dirty-turd” into the surfing lexicon. Whoever the four last-place finishers are in each event, they’re gonna get fucking roasted by the online surfing community, myself included. 

And in case you’re wondering how CT surfers will qualify for the Olympics, read this:

The world rankings at the end of the 2019 CT season will determine 18 of the 40 places at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (10 men and 8 women). The remaining 22 places will be determined at the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, and a single slot (each for men and women) for the host nation, Japan (if they have not already qualified through the mentioned routes).

The 18 places that are allocated at the WSL CT come with a condition that a country cannot qualify more than two athletes per gender. This means that if Australia qualifies three athletes, only two can go to the Games and the other place is allocated to the next highest ranked. 

Following the final CT events of the season (the Hawaiian Pro and Billabong Pipe Masters), the world rankings will determine the first highest 18 eligible qualifiers for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, subject to all qualified surfers meeting the ISA’s and IOC’s eligibility requirements and being selected by their respective National Olympic Committee.

Equal pay, we would hope, is self explanatory.

See you in two-and-half weeks!


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Unlocked: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Dec 2, 2022

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 4

The energy drinks are here. They’ve got millions of dollars, and they want your head.

Dec 2, 2022

‘Saturn’ Orbits Into Southern California

Quiksilver's newest film made landfall in Encinitas, and we were there to document the occasion.

Dec 1, 2022

The Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Returns In 2023

Can anyone beat John Florence and Carissa Moore in a three-week window?

Dec 1, 2022

What Will Airs Look Like In 10 Years?

The final installment of our editorial exploration into the nuances of airborne surfing.

Dec 1, 2022


Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters?

Sophie Bell will have a steep learning curve in Hawaii.

Nov 30, 2022

After Years Of Tragic Shark Attacks, Surf Competition Returns To Reunion Island — And A CT Event Could Follow

"We compete at J-Bay and Margarets where there's the same problem." -Johanne Defay

Nov 30, 2022


Sharing Tubes And Hummus In The Middle East’s Surfing Jewel: Israel

No Contest does Tel Aviv!

Nov 29, 2022


Joao Chianca Wants A Pipeline Rematch With JJF

And ain't afraid to ride more foam to do it in the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 29, 2022

An Unorthodox Marriage Of Science And Surf

Cliff Kapono and The Mega Lab are changing stereotypes on all fronts.

Nov 28, 2022


Harry Bryant Dumps Crutches, Visualizes Pipeline Pits After Snapping Leg

“For once in my life, I’m taking something a bit more serious."

Nov 27, 2022

What If You Bought This Sumatran Surf Camp For $690k?

Making a blue print out of surfing's most recurring day dream.

Nov 27, 2022

Sierra Kerr On Greasing Full Rotes, Making Dad Cry & Her Concussion @ VSHPBME 

'I haven’t got my license yet, but I'm thinking of buying a little truck.'

Nov 27, 2022


“There Definitely Needs To Be More Girls That Try Airs”

Caity Simmers' thoughts on her Vans Pipe Masters debut.

Nov 26, 2022

Preview: Who’s John John Florence Flushing Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl?

The final event of the CS schedule is almost upon us. Let's dissect.

Nov 25, 2022


Dane Reynolds Said These Clips Weren’t Good Enough

Could'a fooled us.

Nov 25, 2022


How A Magic Island Birthed One Of The Most Radical Surf And Skate Scenes In The World

Mateus Herdy, Pedro Barros and friends in Red Bull x Stab's No Contest, Brazil.

Nov 23, 2022

The Uber Driver Turned Crypto Millionaire Who Denounced His US Citizenship And Whips Into XXL Nazare

"I do what I want, I don't have a boss." -Toby Trouble

Nov 23, 2022