And thus begins a new era in professional surfing.
The World Surf League have announced the appointment of Sophie Goldschmidt as new CEO of the professional sporting body this morning. According to her resume, Ms Goldschmidt is a former professional tennis player and has had extensive experience in the global sports industry. She has held leadership and commercial roles at the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Rugby Football Union (RFU). While at the NBA. Her achievements include: guiding the expansion of the league into Europe (Spain, Italy and London) and the Middle East (Turkey). At the WTA, she reportedly brokered an $88M Sony Ericsson title sponsorship deal—the largest sponsorship deal in the history of women's sports. And while at the RFU, helped raise the profile of the league resulting in 10.5 million visits to rfu.com from 2013-2014, an increase in visits from mobile and tablet devices to 45% of all traffic, and 4.2 million views of RFUtv videos on YouTube.com.
Here’s the official press release from the World Surf League:
To the WSL Community,
Today I have been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the World Surf League and I am incredibly excited to get started. It is an honor and a privilege to lead the League during this period of incredible growth and continuous transformation. I am very grateful for all that interim CEO Dirk Ziff and the company has done to ensure the organization continues to evolve during this period of transition.
The WSL has experienced remarkable success and unlocked incredible innovations to transform surfing into a digital-first and world-class sport. Having worked at a number of sports organizations, I can unequivocally say that the WSL offers a one-of-a-kind product and culture that I am privileged to now be a part of. Today, we stand at the precipice of even bigger and brighter milestones, and I can't wait to start working with you to usher in the next period of the League's evolution.
First and foremost, I am committed to protecting the interests of our extraordinary athletes and ensuring that our various athlete development programs are further enhanced. A key mission will also be to further build out global recognition and appreciation for the skill and technical rigor of the League's elite athletes. I hold a true passion for surfing and as a fan of the sport, I will also be focused on bringing this passion to new consumers.
Through the implementation of innovative technologies to broadcast content, we have been able to bring competitions to life for our fans. I pledge to continue supporting these broadcasting innovations in order to help bolster fan engagement, and make the sport more accessible to everyone around the world, especially in untapped markets.
Surfing sits at the intersection between performance sport and lifestyle more than ever before and we can mobilize younger generations to be a part of a culture we have been enhancing for 40 plus years.
Our path ahead is incredibly exciting. Surfing's inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is a strong testament to the ongoing development of surfing as a global participatory and spectator sport and we will do everything we can to ensure the world's best surfers have the opportunity to represent their countries on such an important global sporting stage. With the acquisition of the Kelly Slater Wave Company, we will work to build the best high-performance, man-made wave systems on the planet. We have the ability now to unlock a revolutionary new dimension to the sport of professional surfing as we explore possibilities for training and development as well as new, equitable conditions for athletes and enhanced viewing options at set times for our fans.
I am dedicated to bringing my best to this dynamic organization. I am also excited for this remarkable opportunity to continue building upon an extraordinary legacy and chart an unprecedented path of accomplishment and expansion together with you all.
1988 World Champion, Barton Lynch, applauded the appointment on social media saying that the WSL was in good hands.
“Congratulations Sophie, great to read your passion and vision for our amazing sport and culture, I can’t wait to see how things evolve with your guidance and massive thanks to Dirk and all at WSL for what they brought to surfing. It has been taking [sic] to the place we all dreamed it could be, thanks to all.”
We can only presume that her first agenda items will include making sure the WSL remains solvent, attract a title sponsor to the league as well as sponsors to events like the Fiji Pro. She will also be ushering in a new era with wave pool events as part of the WSL/KS Wave Pool affiliation. Watch this space.