Many rumours, many confirmations, many questions remain…
The winds of change are set to blow like a frigid southwester roaring over JBay in the grip of a three-day cold front. It’s relentless, remorseless, taking no prisoners. Fight against the wind and you’ll get hung up at the top, go over the falls on take-off, get blown off the wave on every top turn. Learn how to harness these winds however, understand the benefits these winds have on the waves of Supers and what tides, and you’ll be getting barreled for days.
The WSL winds of change offer similar options.
Ride with them, understand them and make them work, and we’re all in for the next level of the sport’s ascension. Fight against these changes however, and we’re all in a race to the bottom.
There are many aspects to the new tour, and there is still much to come out with regards to details, but here’s what we know and here’s what we think.
Transparent: the tour will start in Hawaii.
Opaque: we don't know how it will start. It might be with Pipe, or there might be an upgrade of one of the QS10,000 events to CT status, and then Sunset Beach and Haleiwa come into the conversation. It’s not a bad idea to start the tour in Hawaii. The late season (which suddenly became the early season) is always prime time on the North Shore.
Transparent: Bells and Margarets are still on, and one can assume that Snapper is still on. The Gold Coast Bulletin has been reporting that their home will not be introducing the first event on the tour from 2019, but they never mentioned any possibility of it being cancelled.
Opaque: Rio. What will happen to Rio, and what’s the deal with Portugal? Some vague story about Portugal changing the event dates for some reason or another.
Transparent: the tour will be shorted into an 8-month tour.
Opaque: what exactly is going to happen with the QS? It can’t be run in 4-months, unless there is some sort of exclusion for smaller events. There are just too many QS 1,000’s and QS 3,000s to go with the 6,000’s and 10,000’s to make such a system workable. One can assume that the 4-month period is for 6,000’s and up, but no one really knows, and event organisers are actively chasing sponsors for 1,000 and 3,000 events right now, to be held long before the proposed 4 month CT break. What’s the point of having smaller events even sanctioned by the WSL id they are going to have no real impact and are going to take place at a time when the emphasis is not on the QS?
Then we have the numbers. According to all the rumours, the numbers are going to stay the same. No whittling down, no top 16, the same old crew battling it out from event to event. So I think something else is at foot here. One of the biggest complaints of the current system is that the juggernaut is too cumbersome, too unwieldy, and at odds with the life span of a good swell by about a day. So if they’re not going to change the numbers, then maybe they’re looking at changing the format to make it a bit less bulky.
There are two simple ways to make it a faster and more efficient beast. Firstly, the non-elimination rounds can be scrapped. They are inefficient and they slow the show down. No one really wants to watch the plate event before the main event.
Secondly, the Kelly Slater ‘Overlap’ priority system works a dream, and I don't know why it isn’t used more often. There are many events and venues where there is way more waves than competitors to ride them, so overlaps would be a great way to speed up play. It’s straightforward, there’s no real grey area there and events can thus be sped up nicely. Maybe it’s a combination of overlaps and no non-elimination rounds to get the whole show fast, tight and more entertaining than it already is.