When someone dominates the way Kelly did this year, things start to seem monotonous. Hopefully the new format will combat any single surfer’s pure supremacy. Photo courtesy ASP Kirstin/Covered Images
We know you've all been waiting patiently for it, and it's finally here: the ASP World Championship Tour 2009 Schedule. This tentative calendar of events now sets the groundwork for the 2009 season. And with the PXM International Van's Pro (Puerto Escondido-Mexico) and the 6-star PRIME Reef Hawaiian Pro both getting underway today, the circus is moving in the direction of determining it's initial cast of players for '09.
Initial of course due to the new competition format that will also go into effect next year on Tour. Though the new contest layout is optional for 2009, Billabong will be adopting it for all their events (Teahupoo, Jeffreys Bay, Mundaka, and the Pipe Masters), Quiksilver will opt to run with the traditional format for the opening Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast event, and Rip Curl is still undecided which format they will use in their events (Bells Beach and the Search).
Here's a rundown of the major changes that are the framework for the new format:
– 48-man format consisting of two opening elimination man-on-man rounds. This gets rid of the free three-man round-one heats, which all surfers advanced out of.
– Round one will consist of 32 surfers, those rated 17 to 27 on the ASP World Tour, three tour/injury wildcards, the top 15-rated surfers on the ASP WQS, and three event wildcards.
– The top 16 on the ASP World Tour are seeded directly in round two where they'll meet the sixteen victors from round one in the re-seeded draw.
– The top ten from the previous year's Dream Tour will be guaranteed a round two seed all year long, while the next six seeds have to maintain their seeded position and can be replaced by better performing back 32 surfers after the third ASP World Tour event of the year.
These modifications all serve the purposes of maximizing swell windows for events, creating a one world ranking system, making it crucial for surfers to surf every event, and of course, increasing the excitement throughout the entirety of each contest.
Combine all these alterations with a few changes to the schedule for 2009, and it seems like it's going to be a whole new Tour. Here's a few of the major changes to the schedule of events for next year:
– The Hang Loose Pro in Brazil in years past has been run right before the Billabong Pipeline Masters. With the dismal turnout of the Top 45 this year at the event, 13 of which didn't show, something had to be done to change attitudes on this event if it's going to survive. Now it sits as the fourth contest of the year and will be run in late June/early July.
– The exclusion of the Globe Fiji Pro. Having just resurrected this event in 2008, it seems there's little hope to run an event at one of the most expensive sites on Tour with the economy in the shitter. This also cuts down the number of events from 11 to 10. A shorter season could mean healthier surfers, while at the same time raising the weight of each event. It’s not like football or basketball or baseball; there’s yet to be a happy medium established regarding the number of “games” that should be “played” in an ASP World Tour season.
– The Rip Curl Search has now taken the precursor slot to the Billabong Pipe Masters, and in 2009 will run in late October instead of it's previous slot sometime in late July/early August. Combine this time of the year with it's holding period starting two days after the closing period of Mundaka and it leaves us wondering if Rip Curl is preparing to blow our minds once again, this time with a European delight.
Now with all that out of the way we can look forward to the dramatic finish on the North Shore, for second place that is. And the bottom rungers scrambling to pull something out of their bowels amidst the Triple Crown always produces some intense surfing. Another interesting outcome to pay attention to is how the Top 10 finishes out; don't forget, the Top 10 from this year will get an automatic second round seeding in the events that elect the new format. Maybe this new format and schedule can keep viewers, and the surfers, enthralled even when Kelly takes the Title before the season's end. –Ryan Brower
Tentative ASP World Tour 2009 Schedule
Feb 28-Mar 11 Quiksilver Pro (Gold Coast, Qld-Australia)
Apr 7-19 Rip Curl Pro (Bells Beach, Victoria-Australia)
May 9-20 Billabong Pro Teahupoo (Teahupoo, Taiarapu-Tahiti)
Jun 27-Jly 5 Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro (Santa Catarina-Brazil)
Jly 9-19 Billabong Pro (Jeffreys Bay-South Africa)
Sep 11-20 Boost Mobile Pro pres. by Hurley (Trestles, California-USA)
Sep 23-Oct 4 Quiksilver Pro France (South West Coast-France)
Oct 5-17 Billabong Pro (Mundaka, Euskadi-Spain)
Oct 19-28 Rip Curl Search (Somewhere…in Europe?)
Dec 8-20 Billabong Pipeline Masters (Banzai Pipeline, Oahu-Hawaii)
For all the 2009 ASP schedules head to aspworldtour.com/2008/2009schedule.asp.