The Billabong Pro moves to “Cup” status.Billabong Trades Its Australian WCT Stop For A Specialty Event
The 2001 ASP World Tour continues to be an enigma. Along with a potential finale at Lowers instead of Pipe, the tour must also wrangle with the fact that it lost another stop, the 2001 Billabong Pro on the Gold Coast.
Last week, Billabong announced that it’s swapping its ‘CT event in Australia with the Billabong Cup, a specialty teams competition that pits the Aussies and Seppos in a potpourri of events during a twelve-day stint along the Gold Coast.
Even though Billabong is turning its “Pro” contest into a “Cup” event, the Brand is still the major player on the championship tour circuit. Next year the brand still intends to present three men’s WCT events — J-Bay, Mundaka, Lowers — and two women’s WCT events. Additionally, Billabong will move forward with sixteen sponsored events on the ASP World Professional Junior Tour. In all, the brand says it will spend 2,000,000 dollars (Australian) in prize money alone. [IMAGE 1]But sitll, the exchange means that next year’s WCT tour will be shortened to twelve events — and most likely eleven, as the Lacanau Pro in France is also an expected casualty.
While the Billabong Pro on the Gold Coast is out, ASP confirmed the remaining Australian WCT event, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, will go ahead as scheduled. ASP President and CEO Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew told Yahoo! Australia that Billabong’s vacated tour license would be offered to potential new sponsors.
Despite the shrinking schedule, it appears that the ASP backs Billabong’s decision. “Bringing together all the champions of the shortboard disciplines will, I am sure, be well supported at the ASP board level,” says Rabbit, adding that the event will stimulate the on-going rivalry between the two surfing powers.
The Cup will feature four rounds of competition including pairs surfing, mixed teams, and individual match surfing. Each nation will post a team of ten members: the top four WCT men, the top two WCT women, along with the highest placed ASP Junior and over 35 Master, based on this year’s results. The remaining two positions — the wildcards — will be selected by the team’s respective captains.
“I believe this unique concept will stimulate the competitive spirit between the U.S.A. and Australia that has been a surfing tradition for more than forty years,” said Billabong Founder Gordon Merchant.
WCT number-two ranked and Billabong teamrider Luke Egan told Yahoo! Australia he was excited about competing in “Davis Cup” style surfing, but was also saddened about losing the Billabong Pro.
“I love that event. I love going around to all the point here on the Gold Coast and surfing them but I would also love to be in a team for Australia, hunting for waves,” Egan said. “Australia and America are the two leading forces in surfing and it would be great to see them duke it out.”