“I love Fiji, it’s like a second home to me. Tavarua, I think is my favourite place in the world.” - Kelly Slater
It’s no secret that Kelly Slater shares a special relationship with Fiji. That relationship now looks to deepen further with Kelly’s Kering Group backed Outerknown clothing company signing on as the Fiji Pro’s title sponsor for the next three years.
The Fiji Pro is one of the most exciting events of the year, but that hasn’t stopped it from losing more sponsors than a struggling QS surfer including Quiksilver, Globe and most recently Volcom. It’s good news for surf fans everywhere that sponsorship has finally been secured, and for the next three years!
Predictably the official WSL press release was pretty scant on details regarding the business behind the move. We can only speculate whether Outerknown is footing the entire bill for the event, or if they have struck some kind of deal with the WSL to meet them halfway rather than foot the entire bill themselves or worse, see Fiji fall off tour. Our money would be on the latter.
One question that arises from the new arrangement is whether the major stakeholder of a company (assuming this is the case with Kelly) can still surf in an event that company sponsors without a conflict of interest?
In golf it is common practise for players to not only host their own events but also compete in them. This is a slightly different scenario however, there is no obvious way to benefit from it on a course – your performance is up to you, but in surfing your progress through an event is determined by a panel of judges on the WSL payroll.
Whatever the case we’re just stoked that Fiji seems safe for the next three years at least … now the WSL and Outerknown just have to last that long.
Outerknown’s issued the following statement in regards to the arrangement:
"I fell in love with the small island of Tavarua a long time ago and I go back a few times every year. It’s definitely my favourite escape and may be home to the happiest people on earth. The island has perfect waves, Restaurants is right in front of where we stay, Cloudbreak is about 2 miles away on the outer reef and if you’re paying attention there are a few secret spots that light up in the right conditions.” - Kelly Slater
We’re beyond stoked to be the title sponsor for the Fiji Pro starting this summer. It’s an incredible honour for us to partner with the World Surf League to showcase this incredible event that means so much to Kelly. (We’re still smiling from his perfect 10 at Cloudbreak last year…)
The OK Fiji Pro heats up on May 28 – June 2 with the Women’s Competition, followed by the Men’s Event, June 4 – 16. We can’t wait to get out on the sand, watch the world's best surfers ride some of the best left reefs on the planet, cheer on Kelly, and hopefully inspire some new fans to explore sustainability.
While the WSL had this to say:
A staple of the WSL Championship Tour (CT) schedule, the Fiji stop epitomizes the "Dream Tour" concept and exists as a fan and athlete favorite. Boasting two world-class lefthand reef breaks in Cloudbreak and Restaurants, Fiji consistently delivers some of the best surfing of the season. Defending event winners Johanne Defay and Gabriel Medina will lead the WSL elite back there this year.
"We're very excited to welcome Outerknown to the WSL family and look forward to working with them to showcase the world's best surfers at one of the most incredible events on the Championship Tour," said Beth Greve, WSL Chief Commercial Officer. "Outerknown is dedicated to putting sustainability at the forefront of their business."
"Outerknown was built on a foundation of style, sustainability and travel," said Moore, Outerknown's Creative Director. "For us, Fiji brings together everything we stand for. It's the ultimate destination; lush jungles, crystal clear waters, perfect waves. You look around and are surrounded by jaw-dropping natural beauty. There's no better place on Earth to celebrate why we're working so hard to protect our ocean and wild places, and we hope to inspire new fans from all around the world to explore sustainability."
"The level of surfing on tour right now, on both the men's and women's sides, has never been higher," said Stephanie Gilmore, 6x WSL Women's Champion and current 2017 tour frontrunner. "That's in part because we have amazing waves to perform on. Fiji has some of the best waves on the planet and is part of the fabric of the Championship Tour. Having Outerknown step up to support men's and women's surfing with the OK Fiji Pro for the next three years is a great thing for surfing."