Stab Magazine | Why The WSL Should Relocate Its European HQ To Barcelona And Not Lisbon

Why The WSL Should Relocate Its European HQ To Barcelona And Not Lisbon

Firstly, the move would be more in line with their “move our headquarters from wave-rich regions (Coolangatta) to places better suited to Instagram (Santa Monica)” strategy.

news // Jun 29, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Although it was recently misreported that the WSL intends to relocate its European headquarters from Hossegor to Lisbon (Lisbon will have a branch of the organisation; Hossegor will remain European HQ), I would like to suggest that the organisation goes through with the move, but instead sets up in the only continental European city to feature in STAB magazine’s World’s 10 Best Cities For Surfers, Barcelona.

When Stab included Barcelona in their 2012 list, the decision was questioned by many. Sure, Barcelona is one helluva a city—probably a world beater in the fields of fun, Titties Per-Square-Inch of sand, and pickpockets—but surf-wise it leaves a lot to be desired.

I have an intimate knowledge of Barcelona’s lacklustre conditions having relocated here a few years back from the Gold Coast. Sure, sometimes in winter we have a run of waves that might last a couple days, and yeah, perhaps two or three times in winter the waves might be head-high, but sessions that can honestly be labelled as Good are very rare.

Generally what we’re dealing with here are onshore conditions, days (weeks! months!) of waiting around while the sea is utterly uncooperative, and when waves arrive they normally do so in closeout form.

Surfing sessions, when we’re lucky enough to get them, mostly involve dodging sanitary pad-condom-tampon flotsam, dead rats, and the hordes of local frothers who live for the handful of surfing days we have. We only get waves in winter, and even then usually when the worst storms hit the city. This means that sessions coincide with the runoff of a city that is home to around 4.8 million people – a city that doesn’t receive rain very often. Like Los Angeles, rainy days shouldn’t be surfing days due to the hazard they present to our eyes, ears, throats, urethras, etc, but unlike Los Angeles, which itself isn’t a wave-blessed region by any stretch of the imagination, we don’t have the luxury of sitting polluted sessions out to preserve the health and integrity of our orifices.

Surprisingly, there’s a large cohort of committed and enthusiastic surfers here, with many learning their pop-ups on the Atlantic coast of Spain and France, the Canary Islands, or doing winter trips to Indonesia, South and Central America, or Sri Lanka. The standard of surfing and etiquette is low, but improving, and while drop-ins are rampant most are done in error – more the responsibility of froth than malice.

But while it would seem like all is bleak in my new Barcelona home, it is not.

Since moving here I’ve found myself foaming at the mouth over conditions that I wouldn’t have looked twice at back in Australia. The crew who surf here are equally grateful for any little bump we receive, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone having a bad time in the water. Plus, when I step out of the Mediterranean I’m stepping into a wonderland of gastronomy, art, architecture, culture and good, cheap wine.

Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world – for me the best – and that I can surf here sometimes, even though I’m dodging bloated rodents and medical waste, is a welcomed bonus.

So why should the WSL relocate their European operations to Barcelona?

Firstly, the move would be more in line with their “move our headquarters from wave-rich regions (Coolangatta) to places better suited to Instagram (Santa Monica)” strategy.

Barcelona would give the various surfing executives ample opportunities to rollerblade the boulevardes as opposed to actually getting themselves into decent surf.

Furthermore, from a purely European surfing perspective, if Supertubos is the only European CT location left on tour after 2019, then Barcelona – with its long waits, a preponderance of closeouts, and locals lacking in the ability to check their inside – wouldn’t be so far from the product the European WSL will be selling.

That, and we could really fucken do with a wavepool here.

Have you, like me, moved for vocation or Valentine to a part of the world that struggles for waves? Have your standards lowered and do you now find yourself plunging into sessions that you’d barely have glanced at previously? Or do you feel that real surfers won’t leave consistent waves, no matter what?


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