Sharpen your knives and pitchforks. Virtually any time on this here website we’ve shared an opinion about events that should get cut or added to the World Championship Tour, it’s led to seething rebukes in the comments section. I expect no less here. Come at me!
But with rumors swirling that Margaret River may get cut from next year’s schedule, and other such changes, now is as good a time as any to give my completely unsolicited opinion about what events should stay, go, or be added for next year.
For some time the WSL has fallen short on the promise of delivering the best surfers in the best waves in the world. Can anyone honestly say that different comp sites in Rio are worthy of such acclaim? Hell, even Bells is pretty much a snoozer besides a few flashes of brilliance.
And here’s some more food for thought. There are three stops in Australia, and only one in the continental US this year. Three of eleven stops on tour are right pointbreaks. Six of eleven are warm enough to exclusively wear boardshorts. What about a dedicated cold water location? What about a stop in Sri Lanka or West Africa?
Remember, opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one. So here’s mine (opinion that is). And all of this, of course, is barring the inclusion of Kelly’s wave on tour which is possible but still uncertain:
Keep: Snapper, Margies, Fiji, J-Bay, Lowers, France, and Pipe
The Tour could use some shaking up, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Snapper, Fiji, Lowers, France, and Pipe are all contests that can be really fun to watch. Remember Parko’s middle finger barrel at Snapper? Or the Code Red swell (that was too big for the contest) at Fiji. J-Bay is probably the best righthander in the world. Lowers is a high-performance Mecca. France produces some insane to watch tubes. And Pipeline is Pipeline. As for Margaret River, it’s likely to get the boot next year because Snapper and Bells have deeper roots in competitive surfing history and have bigger title sponsors. But with John John’s performance in this year’s contest, do you not want more? Plus with the audible to run at The Box or North Point, Margies is packed with potential.
Cut: Bells, Rio, Tahiti, and Portugal
Ok, so what to cut? How about one Australian contest to start. There’s three, and Snapper and Margies are clearly more entertaining than Bells. Rio remains on schedule year after year because, well, Brazil is a huge market and every year the event sites are packed with people. But Brazil is bigger than Rio and has way better waves so why not go elsewhere in South America? (See below). Teahupo’o is a great wave, but really only worthwhile to watch if it’s absolutely macking, and if Fiji remains, why have two tropical lefthanders? Finally, Portugal gets the boot because with so much potential elsewhere, it’s worth sacrificing.
Add: The Search, Nias, Norway, and Chicama
If the WSL were to keep 11 stops on the tour after all this slicing and dicing, that leaves four open slots to fill. First, bring back the Ripcurl Search. When the Search existed, it changed locations every year. From Barra, Mexico to El Gringo, Chile to San Francisco. And it was awesome! And unpredictable! And viewers like unpredictable! There are arguments to be made that the Search was neocolonial in nature, causing traveling surfers to flock to new locales, leaving devastation in their wake. But that seems overblown. Still, what about running at kinda already known locations that aren’t on tour? Or visiting burgeoning surf communities in Sri Lanka or West Africa? I’m sure locals would be psyched.
As for the other slots, let’s add Nias, Norway, and Chicama. I’m not sure what the logistical challenges of putting on contests at Nias and Norway would be, but a grinding tropical righthander and a dedicated cold water spot would be awesome adds. And with so many amazing spots in South America it’d be a shame to focus only on Brazil. Hence Chicama. Surely it’d be amazing to see the best surfers in the world mount the longest wave in the world, right? Right?
Ok, so after all the dust settles, here’s what the 2018 world tour could look like. Are you listening WSL?
Snapper (Mar 14-25)
Margies (Mar 29-Apr 9)
The Ripcurl Search (April 12-24)
Chicama, Peru (May 9-20)
Fiji Pro (Jun 4-16)
J-Bay (Jul 12-23)
Nias (Aug 11-22)
Trestles (Sep 6-17)
France (Oct 7-18)
Unstad, Norway (Oct 20-31)
Pipe (Dec 8-20)