The WSL is threatening to remove Hawaii from the 2019 schedule, if the city of Honolulu does not grant permission to shift around some of the organisation's events.
Namely, the WSL wants to shift the Pipe Masters from December to January – to tie in with a more consistent forecast. But there's been a hold up and level of uncertainty from the city of Honolulu that could see this request denied and the WSL now having to “reluctantly explore alternative solutions.”
“Having canvassed widely, we firmly believe the broader changes we're implementing are for the benefit of all including Hawaii,” says WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. “We're hopeful that Hawaii CT events remain on the schedule, the permit is granted, and it continues to host the world's best surfing.”
It's understood that Sophie flew into Honolulu on Friday, in an attempt to persuade officials that the WSL changes are for the benefit of Hawaii. But mayor Kirk Caldwell has called the WSL out – saying he feels this level of pressure from the WSL is a ploy to strong-arm the application process.
Speaking to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, he said: “The WSL missed deadline in the process and now they're trying to take dates that others have applied for prior to the process being completed. That's not how we do business in Hawaii. That isn't prono.” According to Caldwell, the WSL submitted its request to switch the dates in mid-December, after the November deadline.
Originally, the WSL applied to have the Sunset Open in January 2019 but now wants those dates for the Pipe Masters, essentially switching the dates for Pipe and Sunset.
According to Sophie, the WSL spends around $7 million to stage and promote events in Hawaii, bringing in £20 million of economic impact. We'll keep you posted on any updates.
Cover image; Nathan Florence about to get drained in front of the lens of Robbie Vallad