World Surf League cancels 2020 season

July 17, 2020 | Surfing
World Surf League: the Covid-19 pandemic put an end to the 2020 pro surfing season | Photo: WSL

The World Surf League (WSL) announced the cancellation of the 2020 Championship Tour (CT) and Qualifying Series (QS) seasons.

The professional surfing circuit decided to put an end to this year's competition due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"After extensive discussions with athletes, organizers, staff, and health authorities, we decided cancel the season," notes Erik Logan, CEO of WSL.

"Although we believe competitive surfing could be held safely during the age of the unresolved novel coronavirus outbreak, there are ongoing concerns throughout the world."

As a result, WSL is planning to kick off the 2021 CT season earlier.

The upcoming surfing season starts in November 2020 in Maui, Hawaii, for the women and in December 2020 in Oahu, Hawaii, for the men.

The proposal is still subject to the approval of the State of Hawaii and local government agencies.

WSL is also basing its strategy on international travel permissions.

The New CT Format

If everything goes according to the original plan, the 2021 CT season will wrap up with "The WSL Finals," a new one-off, world title event format to be held in September 2021.

On this single-day contest, the top five men and top five women will battle for world titles in a surf-off format held in a world-class wave.

The entire schedule for the 2021 season will be updated to reflect the debut of the new Challenger Series (CS).

Therefore, all QS events will run through to the end of June 2021, with the qualified surfers competing on the CS season from August to December 2021.

The WSL Finals: a single-day event featuring the top 5 men and women

2021 Championship Tour | Schedule

WSL removed Hossegor from the CT list, citing "optimal wave timing." The French venue will now host a CS event in 2021.

The stages for the 2021 CT season are as follows:

Shiseido Maui Pro | 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 | 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 | 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 | Teahupoo, Tahiti | August 26 - September 6, 2021
The WSL Finals | Location TBD | September 8 - 16, 2021

The WSL Finals: a surf-off format to be held in a world-class wave

The Mid-Season Cut

Erik Logan and his team also announced the introduction of a mid-season cut, which will reduce the men's and women's fields from 36 and 18 to 24 and 12, respectively, at the season's midway point.

The new change will take effect in the 2022 season.

The goal is to optimize swell cycles at locations like G-Land and J-Bay and to ensure that the most popular surfers compete against each other more frequently.

Specialty Events

Finally, WSL will run a series of regional, pre-season exhibition events throughout 2020.

CT surfers will participate in "The WSL Countdown" at select venues in the United States (Surf Ranch), Australia (Australian Grand Slam), France, and Portugal (Euro Surf Cup).

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