2021 Qualifying Series and Challenger Series details
Last month, the Woz released details of the rejigged Championship Tour, now starting at Pipe and ending at Trestles. Many of the details were left up in the air, not only about the uncertainty of travel but also how the feeder tours would work.
The Wozzle speak of their pathways to a world title, from the junior series on up, but if the lower tours aren't running then the legitimacy of the title is in question.
This week they released the details of the new look Qualifying Series (QS) and Challenger Series (CS) circuits. It's the biggest change to the tour since the QS was introduced in '92, however there are still a lot of known unknowns, gaps in the program that are yet to be sorted out.
This is what we know so far:
- The QS will run from January to July, with events offering between 1,000 and 5,000 points.
- Surfers will collect points by competing in their regions, these being: Africa; Asia; Australia/Oceania; Europe; Hawaii; North America; South America.
- Due to travel restrictions some regions might have to split into sub regions.
- If possible a surfer may compete in another region, however he/she can't collect points, only prizemoney.
- Surfers can rollover their best three results from 2020 (Matt Banting breathes a sigh of relief!)
- All points from the 2020 Sydney Surf Pro get halved - assuming this is because it was a 10,000 and skews the results.
- A surfers best five results will count towards 2021 Challenger Series qualification.
- 96 men and 64 women are in each Challenger Series event, however taking out CT surfers and wildcards that leaves 58 men and 44 women (See below for breakdown from each region)
- The top ten men and top six women on the 2020 QS get auto entry into the 2021 Challenger Series.
- It's not yet known how many events will be in the Challenger Series.
- It's not yet known how many surfers from the Challenger Series will qualify to jump up to the CT.
Got all that? Well, even if you do expect a lot of things to change in the coming months. The Woz released the 2021 QS calender and Aussie hopefuls have reason to scratch their heads as there's currently just four events, none of them are 5,000s and only one is a 3,000. The points rating of the events won't matter as much (except for the prizememoney of course), as the regions are split up, however surfers will have to make every event count, and then also grab their best event from last year, to hope for qualification.
In contrast, there are eleven events in Africa, including a 5,000 in Morocco, and a 3,000 each in Senegal and the Ivory Coast. Again, this doesn't mean African surfers are more likely to qualify, they're only allotted five places (see graph), but they have more chances to succeed and more prizemoney to fund travelling. There's currently over three times the prize purse in the African tour compared to Australia - $190,000 vs $60,000.
The Woz says the new structure will, "provide a more streamlined and affordable career pathway for WSL athletes by allowing up-and-coming surfers to develop closer to home without financially overleveraging themselves."
With COVID still on the march, 2021 will be full of uncertainty, hence the news coming out of Woz HQ is full of words like 'if' and 'might'. Word is they're also planning contingencies for the Championship Tour should travel get more difficult through the middle of next year.
CT surfers will be in Australia up to mid-May for the rejigged Snapper event, and organisers are quietly putting things in place for two more possible CTs here in Australia should they need them. One is at a freshly minted venue, the other is a city beach that hasn't seen CT action in decades.