In May, Tahiti and the rest of French Polynesia reopened to travellers and the Outerknown Pro looked like a slam-dunk for the WSL – the ideal event to cap their regular CT tour and determine the final qualifiers for the heavily-hyped Championship Series.        

However, overnight, The WSL made the dramatic statement that the Outerknown Pro, Tahiti will be canned. The opening paragraph of the WSL press release read.

“The World Surf League (WSL) today announces the cancellation of the Tahiti Pro, following the French Government's declared state of emergency for French Polynesia due to COVID-19 and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moving French Polynesia into a Level 4 zone and advising people not to travel.”

The impact of the decision on the surfers and the tour was immediately apparent. The Corona Pro Mexico instantly became the last opportunity to secure a spot in the crucial top five. The WSL had stated that they would not attempt to run an additional championship tour event so Mexico was every surfer's last roll of the dice.

As surfers exited the water from their heats at Barra de la Cruz some were told that they had definitely qualified for the finals series. Unofficially Carissa Moore, Steph Gilmore, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Johanne Defay and Sally Fitzgibbons were in. In the men’s Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo were secure with Conner Coffin sneaking into fifth after making the quarters. The good news for Australian fans is that Morgan Cibilic looks like he will retain his top five slot and head to Trestles for the finals series.  Meanwhile, others had to confront the reality that they would not be getting a shot at the title.    

The decision also has huge ramifications for surfers on the bubble who are facing demotion to the WQS. Although this factor was not referenced in the WSL press release one might assume that the standings after Mexico will determine who stays and who goes.

The cancellation of Tahiti is undeniably disappointing for fans and surfers. Perhaps the only saving grace for the WSL is the success of the Mexico event – at least they are finishing the regular tour on a high.