World Surf League Cancels 2020 Championship Tour

July 17, 2020, 10:32 AM HST · Updated July 17, 10:53 AM
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Video courtesy: “Let’s Talk Sports Hawaii w/ Kanoa Leahey & Jordan Helle available in most podcast libraries.

The World Surf League today announced it is officially cancelling the 2020 Championship Tour and Qualifying Series seasons for this year, amid ongoing challenges of international travel and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 tour will start in November of this year with the Shiseido Maui Pro presented by ROXY at Honolulu Bay for the women; and in December with the Billabong Pipe Masters on Oʻahu for the men.

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The events are subject to the approval of the State of Hawaiʻi and local government agencies, as well as effective protocols that allow for safe international travel.

The 2021 Championship Tour season will finish with ‘The WSL Finals,’ a new single-day World Title Event in September of next year.

“After careful consideration and extensive discussions with key stakeholders, we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Championship Tour and Qualifying Series seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said WSL CEO Erik Logan in a video release. “While we firmly believe that surfing is amongst the sports best suited for competition to be held safely during the age of unresolved COVID, we have huge respect for the ongoing concerns of many in our community as the world works to resolve this.”

New Championship Tour Format for 2021 and Beyond

The 2021 WSL Championship Tour will see key format changes.

  • ‘The WSL Finals’: The men’s and women’s World Titles will be decided in a single-day event, ‘The WSL Finals.’ The top five women and top five men following the 10-event CT season will battle for their respective titles in a new surf-off format at one of the world’s best waves.
  • Equal number of women’s and men’s CT events: The 2021 CT will include 10 events each for both the women and the men, an equal number of events for the first time ever, with the women joining the men to surf at Teahupoʻo, Tahiti, one of the world’s most iconic and demanding waves, for the first time since 2006.
  • Seasonality of the tour: In addition to the redesign of the CT, the schedule will be updated to create distinct seasons between the CT and the Challenger Series (CS). Starting in 2021, the CS will run from August through to December. The QS will run through to the end of June 2021 and determine who has qualified for the Challenger Series. Points from QS events that were completed in 2020 will carry over into 2021.

“I’m really excited about these new format changes,” said two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright. “As someone that has spent a lot of time out with injury and on the couch in the last few years as a professional spectator, I feel that change is good and needed. Having Tahiti come back on the schedule will be interesting and challenging. It will take us a few years to get our feet and positioning in. However, with the next generation of strong and talented women coming through I think we’ll soon have Tahiti specialists.”

“The WSL format, timeline and location updates will make for a very exciting and intense 2021 tour and World Title chase,” said two-time WSL Champion John Florence. “It’s great being a part of the WSL, especially as we evolve and adapt to new challenges. I look forward to competing in this new era.”

2021 Championship Tour Season*:

* All events and dates subject to change due to applicable COVID-19-related restrictions, including global travel restrictions

  • Shiseido Maui Pro presented by ROXY: Maui, Hawaiʻi: Nov. 25 – Dec. 6, 2020
  • Billabong Pipe Masters: Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi: Dec. 8-20, 2020
  • MEO Pro Portugal: Peniche, Portugal: Feb. 18-28, 2021
  • Corona Open Gold Coast presented by Billabong: Queensland, Australia: March 18-28, 2021
  • Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: Victoria, Australia: April 1-11, 2021
  • Margaret River Pro: Western Australia, Australia: April 16-26, 2021
  • Oi Rio Pro presented by Corona: Saquarema, Brasil: May 20-29, 2021
  • Surf Ranch Pro: California, USA: June 10-13, 2021
  • Quiksilver Pro G-Land: Indonesia: June 20-29, 2021
  • Corona Open J-Bay: South Africa: July 7-19, 2021
  • Outerknown Tahiti Pro: Teahupoʻo, Tahiti: Aug. 26-Sept. 6, 2021
  • The WSL Finals: Location TBD: Sept. 8-16, 2021

The enhancements to the 2021 CT began with the timing of the WSL Finals, causing subsequent adjustments to some Tour locations. Due to optimal wave timing, the Championship Tour will no longer include Hossegor. However, the WSL, in close partnership with Quiksilver and ROXY, are committed to the region and look forward to hosting an important Challenger Series event in France in 2021.

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