New Longboarding tour with events in Noosa, New York, Spain and Taiwan add a fresh spark that the CT lacks.
“The whole competitive longboarding scene was off putting and it was confusing,” Harrison Roach once told Tracks about his early forays into competitive mal riding. “I remember seeing the guy that would go on to be the World Champion doing a chop hop, a 180 ollie. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ When you are kid growing up on a shortboard you learn that at 13 and by the time you are 14 it’s the most uncool trick in the book.”
Yet with the WSL new revamped Longboard Tour that may all be about to change. Last month new tour stops were announced in Noosa, New York and Pantin, to add to the existing event in Taiwan. They represent an eclectic mix of longboard tradition, urban fizz, European legacy and new Asian delights.
Even for those that feel slightly sick seeing at seeing a grown man or woman doing a floater on a nine foot thruster, it’s hard not to feel just the slightest twinge of excitement at a totally reset World Championship.
It also stands in direct contrast to the current inertia on the CT shortboard tour. You’ll remember that not so long ago there were mooted dramatic changes to the established formula. Tour starts at Pipe, a World Title showdown in the Mentawais and surfers being shot out of cannons to start heats were, not so long ago, all being offered a potential a southerly buster to the current becalmed roster.
What happened though were minor calendar tweaks to the same well-worn events. Margarets was pushed back to run after Bali, resulting in the opening event at Snapper being moved to April. The main result being that surf fans have had to endure a four-month waiting period since the end of Pipe Masters. It’s been an endless round of unappetising nibbles, a smorgasbord of low ranking QS events, as we wait for the barbie to be cranked up and the main meal to be served up.
The World Longboard Tour however has arrived freshly minted with a diverse range of new events in exciting locations. The first event at Noosa starting this week looks to have surf that if not quite in the Oma style, still looks promising. It was Bob McTavish that said, "Surfing at Tea Tree is like having a cup of tea with God,” and the arrival of a CT at the legendary longboarding event at First Point, as part of the Noosa Surf Festival, just makes sense.
The same could be said for the New York event. A WSL event held 45 minutes on the subway from the city is a marketer’s wet dream, yet as the Quik Pro in 2010 showed, can also coincide with quality waves. No doubt it won’t just be Owen Wright, who pocketed a record $US300,000 when he won the event, of the non-noseriding dudes that wouldn’t mind a competitive return to the Big Apple.
Pantin, the host of a professional surfing event since 1986 and blessed with natural beauty and incredibly consistent waves, too offers a safe, but fresh, option. Finally Taiwan, the host of a the Junior and Longboarding World Titles over last few years offers quality reef breaks, warm water and the best goddamn dumplings of any stop on tour.
The new events will also be overseen by the influential Devon Howard. It was the San Diego surfer’s appearances in Thomas Campbell's seminal surf films such The Seedling, Sprout and The Present that helped make longboarding relevant in the 1990s. The whole package means that the WSL might just have hit on a new Tour that can generate real interest. And all without a chop hop in sight.