Six weeks after first announcing the tour’s postponement, World Surf League CEO Erik Logan provided another detailed message today, letting fans know that competitive surfing has been put on hold until at least June 1 while officially postponing the Oi Rio Pro in hopes of running it later in that month. “Where and when we will run this year is still very much an open question,” he said. “But we will continue to work with governments, world health authorities, and our local communities on returning to the lineup.”
Logan also announced that 2021 will see big changes to the tour format, ones the WSL was planning to unveil in 2022. “Our pause due to COVID really allowed us to see that now is the time to accelerate these changes,” he said.
Last year’s final at Pipeline, which saw Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina face off in the last heat of the year to decide the world title, was a shot of reality for the WSL – a scenario they’d like to see much more of as the engagement in that event was extremely high thanks to the ramifications. So the League won’t leave that scenario to chance anymore and will use a “regular season” of sorts to decide seedings for the final event of the year, a “surf-off” as they’re calling it, to decide the world title. They’re essentially creating a playoff format similar to other sports leagues to ensure titles are won in the water and at year’s end.
Logan also announced a change to the WSL Challenger Series, which will run separate to the CT season and allow those who fall off the tour to re-qualify for the next season and not have to wait a calendar year to compete on surfing’s most elite level. The League surmises that running the tours separate from one another will also allow more focus to be put on young talent in the Challenger Series. In addition, the League will focus on regional QS tours in 2021 that will help young surfers qualify for the pro level –like the Challenger Series, then the CT – without having to spend a fortune to do so.
Details on the new changes weren’t entirely clear yet. “We’ll have more details soon but we’re really excited about what this means for surfers and surfing worldwide,” Logan said.
Check out WorldSurfLeague.com for more information.