The Tour 2.0
Last updated March 14, 2021 by Balyn McDonald
After a welcome start, followed by several set-backs and some on-brand radio silence, the WSL has found a new path forward in 2021.
Pipe/Maui seem like an entire season ago, but it’s worth remembering that the WSL had a brief-but-competent return to the professional sports sphere with their season openers in Hawaii 3 months ago.
Sure, there were some lowlights, such as a shark attack at Maui minutes before the finals day, wildcard Miguel Tudela’s event-ending injury, Griffin’s inability to catch any R3 waves, and Eric Logan’s covid infection threatening to derail the whole shebang, but there were also moments of redemption. We had a (part of a) women’s event at Pipe for the first time in aeons, we had Pipe Pipe Florence finally claim a Masters (against Gabriel Medina of all people), and we had a successful return for professional surfing on the world stage.
We were all keen for Sunset, Steamer Lane, Portugal and Bells. Happy days.
Then, in the days following John and Carissa’s wins, Sunset, Santa Cruz and Portugal were all dropped.
Admittedly, Portugal was always tentative. And we kinda knew that the WSL had shat in its Hawaiian nest after their Pipe farce. And a US mainland event during the pandemic was always going to be optimistic. But all three?
Australia seemed like the only possible saviour, but there was little in the way of confirmation. Confidence wavered.
Newcastle was announced as an extra event, but rumours started circling of Bells becoming increasingly unlikely. Then locals slapped down a poorly-executed attempt to throw Lennox into the fray. Western Australia had also been notoriously conservative with border closures. Time was ticking for quarantine organisation, and still we had no solid news.
Things looked ominous.
Then, out of the ashes, the phoenix emerged; a 4-part Australian leg including two former jewels in the CT crown and a new ‘Search’ event at a yet-untested venue.
After a quick read, it was apparent that Rip Curl was balls-deep in the whole thing; principal sponsor of all 4 events (assisted un-ironically by Corona).
They had saved the tour and re-ignited my 2000s froth glands by bringing back the Search.
It was no surprise then that they announced a 3-year partnership with the WSL Finals soon afterwards.
Now here we are; fans are on the cusp of an actual tour return, surfers are mid-quarantine (except Kelly), and things are looking up.
Now excuse me; I’ve got a fantasy team to tweak.