The Inertia Founder
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In 2019, Pipeline will be sorely missed. Photo: WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

In 2019, Pipeline will be sorely missed. Photo: WSL / Kirstin Scholtz


The Inertia

In the latest development in the most attentively followed permitting application process in the history of surfing, the WSL just sent us a press release that stated as fact what everyone feared might be true.

The Pipe Masters was not approved for the 2019 WSL Championship Tour.

That said, Pipeline was approved to be included in the upcoming 2018 season. The following events were also tentatively approved for 2018/2019: HIC Pro at Sunset Beach, Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset, Billabong Pipe Masters at Pipeline, Sunset Open at Sunset Beach, and the Volcom Pipe Pro at Pipeline.

“Yesterday, the City and County of Honolulu Dept of Parks & Recreation announced preliminary permit approval for the 2018/2019 winter events calendar,” the WSL stated in a press release. “While all of WSL’s historic permits for the winter 2018/2019 have been granted, including the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters, the WSL remains disappointed that the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters has not been granted. The WSL will pursue alternative options to open the season next year.”

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“We are disappointed we will not be able to run the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters,” said WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. “However, we are pleased that the Mayor recognizes that fundamental changes are required to the permit process that will benefit Hawaiian surfing, the surfers, the community and other stakeholders. We will assist however we can during this process and once we understand the changes, we will be able to determine which events we can invest in bringing to Hawaii in winter 2019 and beyond. As previously stated, we would love to continue to bring our full array of events to Hawaii, but we need to be able to plan long term and receive the appropriate local support in order to help grow Hawaiian surfing in a sustainable way.”

“I’m not sure that is final yet so let’s wait until it is,” Kelly Slater wrote The Inertia via email. “My understanding is that even the shootout for 2019 has yet to finalize their permit so it may just have to take a bit more time to be 100% either way.”

“Yeh kinda sucks at the moment, but I gonna say it’s all gonna work out itself out!!!” Reef McIntosh, a prominent filter of all things Quiksilver House on the North Shore texted The Inertia. “Sorry for the simple answer.”

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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office sent the following statement to The Inertia: “The WSL has been awarded six events for the 2018/2019 winter surf season on the North Shore, more than any other applicant. I am happy that they decided not to pull out of Hawai‘i for the upcoming season. I am disappointed that they don’t plan to apply for the 2019 Pipe Masters in Hawai‘i, and I hope they will keep an open mind and reconsider for the sake of giving Hawai‘i’s young local surfers the opportunity to compete on the world stage. We look forward to working with WSL for other events in future years.”

It’s admittedly hard to imagine a year of professional surfing that excludes Pipeline, and I suspect conciliatory conversations will continue. But for the moment, what “alternative options” for 2019 look like is anyone’s guess.

The full press release can be read below:

Yesterday, the City and County of Honolulu Dept of Parks & Recreation announced preliminary permit approval for the 2018/2019 winter events calendar. While all of WSL’s historic permits for the winter 2018/2019 have been granted, including the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters, the WSL remains disappointed that the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters has not been granted. The WSL will pursue alternative options to open the season next year.”

WSL remains committed to a full-tiered scope of events ranging from Junior to QS and CT this-coming winter. We are also committed to trying to foster opportunity for local Hawaiian surfers and Hawaii through events as well as our Junior Development and Careers programs. In the best interests of surfing, the community and all stakeholders, the WSL requires fundamental changes to the permit process in order to determine what its future plans will be from winter 2019/2020 onwards.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell met yesterday with WSL at his offices, where positive discussions were held on the future of the permit process, as well as medium and long-term objectives for surfing in Hawaii. In his press conference yesterday, the Mayor acknowledged the need to overhaul the permit rules, to support competitive opportunities and nurture young, aspiring surfers to uphold surfing’s place as the lifeblood of Hawaiian culture and community.

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WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said, “We are disappointed we will not be able to run the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters. However, we are pleased that the Mayor recognizes that fundamental changes are required to the permit process that will benefit Hawaiian surfing, the surfers, the community and other stakeholders. We will assist however we can during this process and once we understand the changes, we will be able to determine which events we can invest in bringing to Hawaii in winter 2019 and beyond. As previously stated, we would love to continue to bring our full array of events to Hawaii, but we need to be able to plan long term and receive the appropriate local support in order to help grow Hawaiian surfing in a sustainable way.”

The 2018 WSL Championship Tour season will commence on March 11, 2018 with the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks in Australia.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

WSL PRELIMINARILY PERMITTED EVENTS FOR HAWAII 2018/2019
HIC PRO – Sunset Beach – Oct. 27 – Nov. 9, 2018
HAWAIIAN PRO – Haleiwa – Nov. 12-24, 2018
VANS WORLD CUP OF SURFING – Sunset – Nov. 25 – Dec. 6, 2018
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS – Ehukai – Dec. 8-20, 2018
SUNSET OPEN – Sunset Beach – Jan. 18-28, 2019
VOLCOM PIPE PRO – Ehukai – Jan 29 – Feb. 10, 2019

 

Dylan Heyden contributed to reporting for this story.

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Editor’s note: This piece was updated at 11:20 am PST to reflect Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s official statement in response to the WSL’s announcement it will not run the Pipe Masters in 2019.

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