Surf Ranch Pro survives WSL format restructuring

Big changes announced this week at the World Surf League include, among other things, a Surf Ranch Pro move to June. Dominated by Gabriel Medina and Felipe Toledo, the one event on tour not dependant on the weather is now sandwiched between Rio and GLand.

While fan response has been dour for the Lemoore contest, the WSL is keeping it on tour, most likely to help boost branding of the WSL-owned Kelly Slater wave technology. The Surf Ranch will also host “Rumble at the Ranch,” a special mixed-gender team format event. We are speculating it will be similar to the Founders Cup in structure. The contest is part of a global network of local events created in the face of international travel restrictions.

“After careful consideration and extensive discussions with key stakeholders, we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Championship Tour and Qualifying Series seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said WSL CEO Erik Logan

The newly styled 2021 tour will start in November 2020 in Maui, Hawaii for the women and in December 2020 in Oahu, Hawaii for the men. 2021 will see the CT season finish with ‘The WSL Finals,’ a new single-day World Title Event in September 2021. 

Key format changes for the 2021 WSL Championship Tour include:

‘The WSL Finals’: The men’s and women’s World Titles will be decided in a single-day event, ‘The WSL Finals’. The top five women and top five men following the 10-event CT season will battle for their respective titles in a new surf-off format at one of the world’s best waves. 

An equal number of women’s and men’s CT events: The 2021 CT will include 10 events each for both the women and the men, an equal number of events for the first time ever, with the women joining the men to surf at Teahupo’o, Tahiti, one of the world’s most iconic and demanding waves, for the first time since 2006.

Seasonality of the tour: In addition to the redesign of the CT, the schedule will be updated to create distinct seasons between the CT and the Challenger Series (CS). Starting in 2021, the CS will run from August through to December. The QS will run through to the end of June 2021 and determine who has qualified for the Challenger Series. Points from QS events that were completed in 2020 will carry over into 2021.

Shiseido Maui Pro presented by ROXY: Maui, Hawaii
November 25 – December 6, 2020

Billabong Pipe Masters: Oahu, Hawaii
December 8 – 20, 2020

MEO Pro Portugal: Peniche, Portugal
February 18 – 28, 2021

Corona Open Gold Coast presented by Billabong: Queensland, Australia
March 18 – 28, 2021

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: Victoria, Australia
April 1 – 11, 2021

Margaret River Pro: Western Australia, Australia
April 16 – 26, 2021

Oi Rio Pro presented by Corona: Saquarema, Brasil
May 20 – 29, 2021

Surf Ranch Pro: California, USA
June 10 – 13, 2021

Quiksilver Pro G-Land: Indonesia
June 20 – 29, 2021

Corona Open J-Bay: South Africa
July 7 – 19, 2021

Outerknown Tahiti Pro: Teahupo’o, Tahiti
August 26 – September 6, 2021

The WSL Finals: Location TBD
September 8 – 16, 2021

The tour has cut its CT stop in France but pledged to run a Challenger Series event on the famed beaches. In addition to the changes for 2021, a mid-season cut will be introduced for the CT in the 2022 season.

“By reducing the men’s and women’s fields from 36 and 18 to 24 and 12, respectively at the season’s midway point, events can run within the most optimal swell cycles at locations like G-Land and J-Bay,” said the WSL in a statement. “To ensure that the stars of the sport meet head to head more frequently. Given the challenges around COVID-19 and the transition year in 2021, the cut will not be implemented until the 2022 season, meaning all qualifiers for the 2020 CT season will get to surf a full season when the competition returns later this year.”

To bring world-class competitive surfing to fans during a time of restricted international travel, the WSL will host a series of regional, pre-season exhibition events featuring CT surfers in the USA, Australia, France, and Portugal called The WSL Countdown. The Surf Ranch event is part of this series.

More information on changes at the WSL here

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