COVID-battered WSL season finds hope for fans with wave pool event

The WSL offered more details about their first upper-tier event of 2020, which will run at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California. As telling by these sticky COVID times, the event will be closed to the public but readily available on several digital platforms. To avoid international travel, only surfing’s upper echelon residing in the United States will compete.

Kelly’s namesake wave pool has hosted several WSL events and the comp is still evolving in its title. The Founders Cup ran in May 2018, Surf Ranch Pro in September 2018, the Freshwater Pro in September 2019 and this year, it’s known as the “Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Rumble at the Ranch.”

This contest departs from previous versions in that it resembles the wave pool’s first event, the Founder’s Cup team format. The wave pool will host 16 of the top male and female surfers currently residing in the United States to compete in a mixed-doubles team event, with prize money going to a charity selected by the winning team. Competitors will include 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater, Olympic qualifiers Caroline Marks, Kolohe Andino and reigning four-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore, alongside Championship Tour stars Filipe Toledo and Sage Erickson. The full list of competitors and teams will be announced during a Selection Show on WorldSurfLeague.com on August 4 at 9 am PT. 

Caroline Marks at the surf ranch
Caroline Marks at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore during WSL competition. Photo by WSL/Cestari

Competition Format

Sixteen surfers (eight men and eight women) will pair-up to form eight co-ed teams. The teams will face-off in a head-to-head bracket, advancing through to the Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Final to win. Every round, each team will get four waves, consisting of two rights and two lefts. Each surfer’s best score will be combined to create the team score for that round. The team with the best score will advance to the next round. Judges will watch and score the event remotely.

The WSL Countdown

The Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Rumble at the Ranch is part of The WSL Countdown, a series of regional, pre-season exhibition events in the USA, Australia, France, and Portugal to bring world-class competitive surfing to fans during a time of restricted international travel.


According to the WSL, they have collaborated extensively with public health officials, medical experts, and local and state officials to ensure the health and safety of participants, staff, and the surrounding community.

“This event will be strictly executed to follow the WSL’s health and safety procedures, which were developed based on guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and emerging best practices established by other sports leagues and broadcast-only live sports events,” said the WSL in a statement. “These procedures include testing for athletes and essential staff, strict social distancing measures, temperature checks, and minimal personnel on-site.”

The Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Rumble at the Ranch will be broadcast live on WorldSurfLeague.com on August 9, 2020, and on select cable channels.