World tour changes pose event risk
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.