October may be an ill-fitting season for this dreamscape. Photo: Joey Griffiths
The New World Tour: In 2019 The Title Will Be Decided In Indo
So long Pipeline in December and hello to the new world order confirmed by WSL Deputy Commissioner Renato Hickel.
The leaks and rumors are true. The times are a changin’ on the WSL Championship Tour, and come 2019 things are going to look a lot different on the CT schedule.
According to an interview WSL Deputy Commissioner Renato Hickel recently sat for with Portuguese news outlet O Jogo, the “new” tour will kick off with an event in Hawaii in February and conclude with the Teahupoo contest in September.
Then, after the conclusion of the regular WSL season, there will be “special event, in which the five or six [of the] best male ranking and the top three or four of the female would decide the world title. This event would, in principle, be in Indonesia,” said Hickel.
As far as the head count on tour, Hickel confirmed that the number of surfers that qualify for the tour would remain the same.
“Anyone who does not qualify from the top 22 will be able to concentrate on the qualifying circuit,” said Hickel.
As for next year, the status quo remains.
“For 2018, the steps will be the same, there are 11 [events], but there may still be a date adjustment. The MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal will happen on a similar date, maybe a week earlier,” said Hickel.
As of press time, the WSL has not made an official announcement on the subject.
The news does bring up a lot more questions than it does answers. In 2019, will there be more or less events on tour? If it starts in Hawaii, does that mean the Pipe Masters is the first event of the year? That seems a bit odd. And then what happens to the Snapper contest? Where on the calendar does that fall?
And about Indo, is it a winner-take-all affair where the surfers would qualify for the event through the regular season and then whoever wins in Indo wins the whole shootin’ match? That hardly seems fair given how people have been winning titles for the last 30-plus years. Also, does the WSL know that October’s late season in Indo and the winds are notoriously fickle…just like Teahupoo in September.
There are also proponents of doing away with mediocre stops at spots like Margaret River and Rio. Whether anything like that will come to fruition remains unknown.
The fact of the business is that the WSL has recognized the need to lively up the tour and are starting to make steps to reinvigorate it. As always, the devils in the details, but at this early stage, these initial steps have our attention.