The Championship Tour in Indonesia
“Why doesn’t the WSL have a CT event in Indonesia?”
Along with judging conspiracies and Brazilian style put downs this is a perennial favourite of the Internet Surf Commenter. The thing is, unlike the first two, there’s some validity in asking what’s going on with Indonesia at the CT level.
For one, Indonesia is the most wave-rich nation on Earth, with a two week waiting period great waves are a given. Also, there’s history there, from the Om Bali Pro in the early 80s, to the Quiksilver Pro Grajagan in the 90s, and then the Bali Search event in 2008, many an organiser has defied logistical hurdles to run successful top tier events.
This year there are three WSL QS events in Indonesia: the Krui Pro, which has already run; the Komune Pro, which again has already run; and the upcoming Hello Pacitan Pro, to be staged next month. All of them are 1,000 rated, the cheapest to run with the least points allocated.
The QS travels to Watu Karung for the inaugural Hello Pacitan Pro next month
Aside from these three, it’s very likely there’ll be two more QS events next year - one at Rote and one at West Sumbawa. So while there’s a lack of CT events in Indonesia the WSL is increasing its presence there.
The main reason for this is the creation of a regional Asian branch of the WSL earlier this year. However, rather than starting the branch from scratch, the WSL simply acquired all the existing ASC (Asian Surfing Circuit) property and resources. Most of the old ASC events were rebadged as the WSL while being run by the same people - namely Tim Hain and Tipi Jabrik from the ASC.
But whatever the case, the behind the scenes machinations appeared to be a good thing, because with the WSL pushing their tentacles into Indo then it’s only a matter of time till they announce a CT, right?
Not so fast, says Tim Hain.
The three aforementioned Indonesian QS events were bankrolled by a mix of private and local government means. Where it’s local government they stump up everything: prizemoney, infrastructure costs, WSL sanction fees, plus transport and accommodation for the WSL team. The costs come out of the regional tourism budget - the contests are simply marketing for surfing tourists.
However, the central Indonesian government doesn’t quite see it that way. “[They] expect the WSL to bring sponsors and money and pay them for the privilege of having the event in Indo,” explains Tim Hain.
A highlight from the last CT event in Indonesia: Kelly switchfoot at Padang Padang
Yet the CT doesn’t work that way. All three Australian CT events, plus the Rip Curl Pro Portugal receive money from domestic tourism bureaus, not the other way around. And the money they pay is well beyond what the regional Indonesian governments are currently paying for their slice of ground-floor QS action.
The only other possibility then is to have private industry pay for a CT outright, but with the surf industry on the slide there are few takers. Consider that two established marquee events, the Fiji Pro and J’Bay, couldn’t find a sponsor for many years.
So while the WSL is making progress in Indonesia, testament to that being three QS comps with more to come, it’s still a long leap to the CT. Guaranteed surf doesn’t make it a fait accompli, someone has to pay, and unless the WSL can persuade the Indonesian government otherwise it won't be them.