A year ago rumors swirled about the World Surf League’s efforts to get an air tour off the ground. Details were scant, but surf fans quickly began to reminisce about aerial-specialty events of yore – think the Kustom Airstrike or the Vans SMAS events in the early 2000s. Then, the WSL held an Air Invitational last fall at the Quiksilver Pro France and later an air exhibition at the Surf Ranch Pro.
On Thursday, though, the World Surf League formally announced the one-off events have become a full-blown tour called the Red Bull Airborne Series with contests on the Gold Coast, Keramas, and Hossegor. Josh Kerr will serve as the event series director. It’s especially notable that the WSL and Red Bull have formalized a partnership after rumored controversy over competing events (think Red Bull’s Cape Fear event at “Ours” where no WSL athletes are allowed to participate).
“After the success of the Red Bull Airborne France in 2018, we are excited to launch the Red Bull Airborne Series,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO in a release. “Thanks to Red Bull’s support, we can now launch Red Bull Airborne events on the Gold Coast, in Keramas, and in Hossegor. Additionally through this partnership, Red Bull will activate against the WSL’s unique Championship Tour and Big Wave properties to engage both consumers and athletes. By working closely with Red Bull, their innovation and support will help us further elevate and promote the sport.”
According to the release, Red Bull has also signed on as the official energy drink sponsor of the Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour until 2021.
The WSL says that the Airborne Series events will have a novel format: 18 surfers across two rounds. Round 1 will host six heats with six surfers in each. The second will be the six-person final. How that math adds up exactly, we don’t yet know, but we’ll reach out to the League and get back to you on that.
Also, no word as to which 18 surfers will be selected to compete.