WSL To Run Specialty Event At The Gold Coast’s “Secret” Beachie, South Stradbroke Island
The once sacred, recently ravaged, Gold Coast getaway will be the site of an exhibition event in Sept/Oct.
Have you ever made the paddle to South Stradbroke Island?
It’s a frightful endeavor. Apparently a colony of sharks lives just outside the north jetty, but they also like to hang out in the Broadwater sometimes, meaning that in order to surf Straddie, surfers have to cross a literal shark highway.
As far as I know, no one has ever been attacked on the narrow slip between The Spit and Straddie, but every time your arm dips beneath the surface, it feels probable enough that you’ll never see it again.
Shockingly, this does little to deter crowds from ascending on Straddie on anything resembling a decent day of waves. As Gold Coast local and CUSP co-host Stace Galbraith says, “that joint’s cooked.”
And he surfs it with a ski!
Now that the secret’s out, and with covid continuing its funny jig around the globe, the WSL has decided to run an exhibition event at the once-sacred Gold Coast getaway. Oh yeah, and another in West Oz. The “Australian Grand Slam”.
From the WSL presser today:
The World Surf League is excited to announce that live professional surfing will return this September and October through the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing specialty events. These two broadcast-only ‘strike mission’ style events will play out over a two month waiting period and will crown the most dominant surfers in the best possible waves.
The Australian Grand Slam of Surfing is set to reignite pro surfing in 2020 with the country’s top WSL Championship Tour competitors doing battle at the Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast on South Stradbroke Island (Queensland), and the Margaret River Pro (Western Australia). With each event only needing two days to run and having a two month waiting period, WSL event directors can pinpoint the best conditions for each location guaranteeing the best surfing in the best waves possible. There is plenty at stake across the series with overall men’s and women’s series winners receiving $20,000 AUD each, which will go to a charity of their choice.
The series will see 24 of Australia’s best surfers (12 men and 12 women) go head to head in their respective divisions with 11 male CT competitors and 8 female CT competitors on standby for each stop, some looking to compete for the first time in 2020. The remaining spots in each field will be allocated to the highest ranked 2019 non-qualifying Australian surfers or selected wildcard surfers.
The Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast will see three-time World Champion Mick Fanning do battle against fellow Queenslander and former Pipe Master Bede Durbidge, 2012 World Champion Joel Parkinson and ‘Cooly Kid’ Dean ‘Dingo’ Morrison in a combined super-heat.
For the Margaret River Pro, Australian surfing legend Taj Burrow has accepted a wildcard in the men’s draw, and Jake Paterson and Dave Macaulay will compete in a Heritage heat, while a locals Best of the Best Heat will be run (surfers TBC via a local trials event run by Surfing Western Australia). A WA female will also be awarded a wildcard place in the main women’s draw.
My takeaways? Well…
Straddie is an incredible beachbreak when it’s on. Obviously. But to get the place pumping for two days straight in September-October is not all that likely. Anything’s possible, of course, but they’re certainly outside of the prime swell/conditions window.
Waves aside, the part of this move that really interests me is that local officials are framing the Straddie event as a way of revitalizing the Gold Coast economy.
“Surfing is in our DNA,” said Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. “It’s wonderful that despite COVID-19 we are still able to host an event with some of the biggest names in surfing. South Straddie is the perfect venue and any events held here can only boost the economy. This innovation by the WSL to hold the event like this is exactly the kind of thinking we need to get us through these times.”
So either they plan to taxi-boat a shit-ton of tourists to an environmentally-protected island in what will most likely be unsafe covid conditions, or they’re gonna erect a massive cluster of pay-per-use periscopes at The Spit.
This could also lead to the spread of pink eye if they’re not careful.
But the WSL aren’t stupid. They clearly have a plan in place that will please all concerned parties, and if for whatever reason that plan fails, they’ve got another three to fall back on. The ASP/WSL have been putting on live-streamed events of the most difficult broadcasting sport on earth for over a decade, so we’re not too worried about them here.
And like the rest of you, we’ll most definitely be tuning into anything that includes Mick Fanning, Joel Parko, and Taj Burrow. Plus a bonus two-feet-on-the-tail-pad tutorial from the recently retired super-coach Jake Paterson? You couldn’t pay us to stay away.
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