Last week we reported that the WSL had found itself in a sticky situation after messing up its permit for the proposed 2019 Pipe Masters, which they hoped would kick off the new look tour in January.
After much speculation and frantic work behind the scenes, the official word has just come through that the permit for the event to run in the first half of the year has not been granted, meaning it’ll either have to run at the end of the year like normal, causing drastic changes to the previously released 2019 schedule, or not at all. Here’s the official statement from the WSL:
“Yesterday, the City and County of Honolulu Dept of Parks & Recreation announced preliminary permit approval for the 2018/2019 winter events calendar. While all of WSL’s historic permits for the winter 2018/2019 have been granted, including the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters, the WSL remains disappointed that the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters has not been granted. The WSL will pursue alternative options to open the season next year.”
Mayor Kirk Caldwell met yesterday with WSL at his offices, where positive discussions were held on the future of the permit process, as well as medium and long-term objectives for surfing in Hawaii. In his press conference yesterday, the Mayor acknowledged the need to overhaul the permit rules, to support competitive opportunities and nurture young, aspiring surfers to uphold surfing’s place as the lifeblood of Hawaiian culture and community.
WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said, “We are disappointed we will not be able to run the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters. However, we are pleased that the Mayor recognizes that fundamental changes are required to the permit process that will benefit Hawaiian surfing, the surfers, the community and other stakeholders. We will assist however we can during this process and once we understand the changes, we will be able to determine which events we can invest in bringing to Hawaii in winter 2019 and beyond. As previously stated, we would love to continue to bring our full array of events to Hawaii, but we need to be able to plan long term and receive the appropriate local support in order to help grow Hawaiian surfing in a sustainable way.”
The WSL had previously said that if their demands regarding the scheduling of the 2019 Pipe Masters were not met they would consider pulling all their events from Hawaii, however the press release suggests that Volcom Pipe Pro and Sunset Open comps will still run at the start of the year, although there’s no word on the Triple Crown yet. Beyond that, the news certainly raises more questions than it answers about the new look tour in 2019.
Cover photo James Parry