Big changes afoot for the WSL
Every year around this time the surfing rumour mill spills over following the annual SoCal gathering of the WSL's top brass. With long-rumoured format changes in the pipeline and the progress of Kelly's wavepool, this year was always gonna excite.
The meeting was held yesterday and aleady Stab are publishing leaks which, if they prove to be true, present the largest overhaul of the Championship Tour since the CT and QS split in 1992.
The rumoured changes include:
- Instead of crowning a champ in Hawaii, the WCT’s regular season will begin in Hawaii, in February.
- The CT season will end in September. (Possibly at Teahupoo.)
- At the end of the season, the top six men and top four women will compete in an event, most likely in the Mentawais, to establish the World Champion.
- To win the World Championship, the sixth-ranked surfer will go against the fifth, the winner of that against fourth, and so on, until the final matchup: Whoever's made it through will face the world ranked number one.
- The Qualifying Series will commence immediately after the title's decided, operating in similar fashion to Minor Leagues in other pro sports, and allowing a level playing field and open schedule for CT surfers to compete and re-qualify, or train and enjoy an actual off-season.
- The QS Season will run from September through to December and end in Hawaii, presumably with the Triple Crown.
There's a lot of WTF's here, clearly it's just the outline of a plan and explanations are required to fill the gaps. Like, the QS goes for just two months?
Worth keping in mind, however, that the current stability is somewhat of an illusion; pro surfing has changed many times in it's forty-something years. It's had round robin, six man finals, man-on-man, it's started the year in Japan and ended it in Australia, it's even staggered yearly tours over the financial year (correctly speaking Tom Carroll is the '82/'83 world champion), it's had Top 16 and Trials events, it's split into QS and CT, and it's had Top 44, Top 34, and Top 32.
Change, it might seem, is the only constant.
That said, if those rumours prove true this one might be a hard sell.
The WSL will make a statement shortly.