Big changes afoot for the WSL

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

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.

Comments

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 1:37pm

Why a hard sell Stu?

This sounds exactly what the Tour needs to shake itself out of this moribund funk and give themselves something exciting to sell.

Deciding the Champ in the `ments with a cherry picked roster of the Top 6 sounds fucking awesome to me.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 1:46pm

I am with you FR a finals series like Aussie Rules which is great as the best play off and the level goes up quite a few notches. I reckon 1 should play 6 and if they lose they get a second chance just like AFL. What if 1 gets to pick the break they want to compete in. Cool. Lots of options up there.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 2:12pm

Whilst it shouldn't be surprising that the company spending millions of dollars to float the idea of the WSL has come up with such a unique and interesting stratagem to improve its own game it's , well ....its surprising.

Well done , WSL.

Doesn't sound like they've addressed that which is the most glaring flaw in most people's eyes - that of contest duration , number of competitors and inconclusive dates of contestability.

But seeing that I personally aren't opposed to the test cricket scenario they're currently running , I'm giving the new approach two thumbs up.

Just stay the fuck away from dark , semi - secret and secret locations ya bastards !

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 2:58pm

I like the idea of the comp in Mentawai's (I mean the Mentawai's has been sold in surf media heavily for 25+ years, so no i don't fear about more exposure)

Not sure on Hawaii thing, i like the show down in Hawaii though.

Still doesn't address most of the problems with the WSL though which is locations and waiting periods etc

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 5:18pm

Season ends in September.

Isnt that coming in too the "Off-Season" for the ments?

I am the bone

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 5:40pm

I heard the Southern winter swell season went from June to July exclusively.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 5:43pm

September is generally still a pretty good month remember the movie "September sessions" things don't really start slowing down too much until Oct-Nov, I'm sure they will still get epic waves, i mean they could hold it in January and still get better waves than many of the current stops on the tour.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 10:09pm

Starting the season with what use to be the grand final is pretty fucken stupid IMO
infact I think the whole new program is just plain stupid. What single brain cell came
up with this idea?
Remember your dealing with nature sometime it works sometimes it dosent drop a
couple of events (Brazil & Trestles) move them some where in indo almost a guarantee
for good waves and get more consistant with judging simple solutions but would work.

IF im not surfing im racing

alsurf's picture
alsurf's picture
alsurf commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 10:14pm

Like most the ideas except for the Hawaii move.
Too much history to move it away from the showdown at the end of season.

Billyw's picture
Billyw's picture
Billyw commented Thursday, 7 Sep 2017 at 10:25pm

"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". Lame - an unnecessary Americanisation

B Dub

freerider.'s picture
freerider.'s picture
freerider. commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 12:40am

With all due respect guys, if there just aren't that many people interested in pro surfing, does it really matter what the WSL does? If pro surfing can't capture the imagination of people who already surf, how do they expect to get the mainstream non surfing populous involved? It seems the WSL has had 3 years already without much success in that area. Without huge amounts of mainstream non Surfers watching, can the WSL be profitable and thus survive? And as someone once said, "as surfers, we don't want to 'watch' we want 'to ride'.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 7:49am

I followed rhe link to stab. On there site they say theres a comp at Slaters wave pool in a couple of weeks (17-19). Is there any more info on this?

I am the bone

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 8:12am

New tour makes sense .
Cut the numbers to 16 , cut the losers rounds , one day contests with over lapping heats like Pipe , which gives more of a chance for people to watch a 1 day even and pay.
Final contest is Chopes in Aug , then to the Mentawis for the final which determines the World Champ .
The Prime WQS starts in Sept at Trestles , then Europe , the Triple crown which then announces the CT competitors for the following year.
The WQS starts in Jan , finishes end of Aug.....top qualifiers then go to Prime!!

x

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 8:32am

If it starts in Hawaii in feb is there a better chance of good waves than December?

Not only swell wise, but the sand not causing problems like it can early season.

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 8:47am

absolutely , as there needs to be lotsa swell to get rid of the sand , and conditions are cleaner, so its a win win , last CT at Chopes in August and then we could see an epic day in Indo!

x

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 10:39am

Indo is one of the easier spots to call a grand final day "on" several days in advance. Froth levels will be high

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer commented Friday, 8 Sep 2017 at 4:13pm

Bullshit all round theyre has been epic pipeline finals. I was there in 2014
when that Slater guy won what a grand final at the proper grand final venue.

IF im not surfing im racing

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Saturday, 9 Sep 2017 at 4:09pm

Yeah, I agree in that Pipe would be the more epic venue for this new grand final format

Hyperherb's picture
Hyperherb's picture
Hyperherb commented Monday, 11 Sep 2017 at 4:33am

So what about this scenario: John John for example goes on a 90's Slater-esque run and wins every event leading up to the Ments grand final. In the final he has a bad heat (broken board/bad luck/whatever) and loses. How could he not be the world champ??
I think it's shit!! The QS part is shit. It's not broken, don't try fix it.

Dean Mc's picture
Dean Mc's picture
Dean Mc commented Monday, 11 Sep 2017 at 5:44am

I will be pretty annoyed when I turn on the teli and there is no Pipeline event to watch. This usually coincides with a family vacation up the coast. If the final showdown has only a top few, you maybe could have two of the final six with an injury or the flu. You would surely want the best surfers on the day.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Monday, 11 Sep 2017 at 7:03am

Football teams can win every round then still lose in the finals.

The location of the final competition may favour one competitor over another , but hasn't it always been so ?

Unless you think that Toledo is stoked that the tour finishes at Pipe....

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Monday, 11 Sep 2017 at 6:11pm

NRL, AFL & A-League all have a finals system. Tennis & golf have majors, shorter forms of cricket have finals, swimming & athletics have the Olympics, soccer has the World Cup, cycling has the Tour de France. Pretty standard stuff for sport. Who remembers when the brilliant PHIL Mickleson couldn't get himself a major? Events will always matter, and we get a title showdown, every year. Grand final series or major events are not the fairest method, but they're the best method. That's why pretty much every sport has one.

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Friday, 15 Sep 2017 at 6:15am

I think I've changed my mind about this. For me, the most exciting thing going on at Trestles right now is this battle for inches between Jordy & John John. It's a tense, hard fought, slow grind, this world title.

tux's picture
tux's picture
tux commented Friday, 15 Sep 2017 at 7:40am

I thought the idea of a world champion is that they were the best surfer in the world
6 Southern Hemi Events
6 Northern Hemi events
Each leg must consist of at least 2 big wave events
All contests are mobile within a geographical area
World rankings are delivered on all contests i.e Winning the local boardriders gets you 10 points, winning the Eddie gets you 10,000 points

Top 10 men based on current rankings are invited
Top 5 women based on current rankings are invited
10 invitees per event consisting of 2 local wildcards and 8 spots based on who's 5 minute video clip recieved the most votes (anyone can submit video clips)
6 person heats
End of the year you have a world champ

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 15 Sep 2017 at 8:11am

I can understand why it would only be a 6 man event in the Mentawais, this would help logistically.

With technology going the way it is, you could make it a completely mobil event and still broadcast it to the world, you have a boat full of the girls and a boat full of the guys, and boat or two of judges etc and you just find the best waves, and can knock an event over in a day.

Ideally you would make it a five day event.

day 1. rippable rights
day 2.rippable lefts
day 3.Hollow rights
day 4 Hollow lefts

Or which ever order conditions dictate is best

Then on the fifth day you have the finals in the best waves available.

It would still be determined on points from the tour but these five small comps would add points to that and you could still end up with a winner of the Mentawai series and world champ.

Imagine this

Day 1. first day solid barrels at Ht's
Day 2 swell drops a little and its down to rippable Macaronis
Day 3 swell drops out overnight and its up to burger world for a totally different kind of playful but still rippable rights
Day 4 new swell hits and No Kandui is firing big hollow lefts

Day 5 Then the final at firing double over head rifles

Sounds unrealistic but if you could still broadcast it, its not i mean this is basically a Mentawai boat trip, its just you hold a comp with six (12) of the worlds best surfers.

tux's picture
tux's picture
tux commented Friday, 15 Sep 2017 at 10:02am

I think they have to face facts in that its never going to hold much mainstream appeal, so they need to make it more exciting and accessible for the crew that don't really know much about surfing . Change and character narratives will provide more compelling viewing we only need to look at Occy's world title vs Damien Hardmans 3 (I think) to see which ones more exciting...Occy's story arc is much better....sure you can't script stuff like that but you can definatly sku the media comms that you put out to show the story that needs to be told.