World tour changes pose event risk

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Times News -

A shake-up of surf­ing’s World Cham­pi­onship Tour could un­der­mine Mar­garet River’s chance to re­main on the tour be­yond 2019.

The or­gan­is­ers of WA’s premier surf­ing con­test are chas­ing the in­clu­sion of a “block­buster” wave for the event in a bid to ce­ment its place on the sport’s world tour.

Surf­ing WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Lane said this week he was con­fi­dent Mar­garet River’s sta­tus as a WCT event could be en­hanced de­spite re­ports of rad­i­cal changes.

Re­nato Hickel, the deputy com­mis­sioner of global gov­ern­ing body the World Surf League, told a Por­tuguese news out­let this week the WCT would be over­hauled from 2019.

As part of the changes, the tour would be trun­cated, Mr Hickel said, while the con­test at Pipe­line in Hawaii, which has long been the fi­nal event of the sea­son, would be the cur­tain-raiser held in Fe­bru­ary.

On top of this, Mr Hickel also let slip plans to hold a spe­cial event at the end of the sea­son in In­done­sia, where the top hand­ful of surfers would face off to de­cide a world cham­pion.

There has also been ru­mours of an event at a wave park, con­firm­ing ru­mours the WSL wanted to in­crease global au­di­ences tun­ing in for one-off big-wave com­pe­ti­tions.

With Surf­ing WA and the State Govern­ment strik­ing a deal with the WSL to keep Mar­garet River on the world tour un­til at least 2019, Mr Lane was adamant the event would be safe for the next two years.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Lane, the re­ported changes to the WCT if any­thing were an op­por­tu­nity for Mar­garet River be­cause its va­ri­ety and power would be an even clearer point of dif­fer­ence than it is now.

He said moves to add an­other, undis­closed wave to the event’s li­cence would only strengthen the case.

“In some ways it’s hard to du­pli­cate the type of raw, pow­er­ful, large surf that we have in WA, ” Mr Lane said.

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