Introducing the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing
Following the WSL's announcement last weekend that all 2020 tours have been scrapped, comes news of new events in each major surfing nation.
Depending which press release you're reading the Woz is calling them "pre-season exhibitions" or the "WSL Countdown Series". Here in Australia there are two new events, one each at South Stradbroke Island and Margaret River, and together they're being called the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing.
They'll be held sometime between the start of September and the end of October, with organisers waiting for the best conditions. Each competition needs two days to run.
The overall men's and women's series winners will receive $20,000 AUD each, which will go to a charity of their choice.
The contests are open to all Australian CT surfers - so eleven in the men, eight women - plus a number of non-qualifying surfers from the 2019 QS and local wildcards. Each event will include heritage heats and 'best of the best locals' heats.
The Gold Coast will see Mick Fanning do battle against Bede Durbidge, Parko, and Dean ‘Dingo' Morrison in a combined super-heat. Also, North End Boardriders Club, who call South Straddie home, have been awarded one men's (Chris Bennetts) and one women's wildcard spot (Sayalea Muramatsu) into the main event.
For Margaret River, Taj Burrow has accepted a wildcard in the men's draw, and Jake Paterson and Dave Macaulay will compete in a Heritage heat, while a locals Best of the Best Heat will be run (surfers TBC via a local trials event run by Surfing Western Australia). A WA female will also be awarded a wildcard place in the main women's draw.
"It's been a long, unexpected break for everyone with so many unknowns for the year," said Steph Gilmore of the proposed competitions. "It feels great to finally get some events in the near future to get back in the competitive groove.
"Running these events is a harder task than ever right now, especially for such a global sport, so it's encouraging to see how hard the WSL is working in their regional areas to get things back on track for their surfers and fans."
Similar to last weekend's announcement, which fixed concrete plans in an uncertain future, the Woz will have to keep a firm eye on restrictions if the Grand Slam is to go ahead.
At present, WA has a hard border - no-one is allowed in or out. Last Saturday, the WA government was due to move to Phase 5 of their COVID road map, one step before the removal of border restrictions, however the "evolving situation in the Eastern states" saw them move it back to the 1st August, with a concomitant push back of Phase 6 and the opening of the WA border.
The Margaret River contest is therefore contingent on the containment of cases in Victoria and NSW.
At present, the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing is planned to run between September 1 and October 31st and be broadcast live on all WSL Channels including worldsurfleague.com and the WSL Facebook page, Channel 7 (7Plus) and Fox Sports Australia (Kayo).