The 2002 World Championship Tour (WCT) schedule is shaping up as the best in ASP World Tour history. After two years of hard work, incorporating a revitalized calendar highlighted by prime venues and dramatically increased prize money, 2002 is being hailed as the dream tour.
The WCT kicks off on Australia’s Gold Coast with the men’s Quiksilver Pro, followed by the women’s Roxy Pro. Traditionally the long point break barrels of Burleigh Heads and Kirra have warmly received the world’s best surfers, and the place tends to bring performance levels to a boil.
The top 45 men then have an Easter date at Bells Beach for the 2002 edition of the Rip Curl Pro with waves ranging from 3ft Rincon to 15ft Hells’ Bells, plus the tantalizing possibility of a day at a phantom big-wave location ‘down south’. Surfers must consider bringing a comprehensive fleet of boards to be prepared for the Victorian challenge.
The Tour wings its way out to Tahiti for the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, for the men and women. Staged at the infamous break of Teahupoo, this event generates phenomenal interest worldwide. As a proving ground, Teahupoo is in a league of it’s own. The classic Polynesian hospitality and the extraordinary challenge of the wave combine for a very exciting stop.
News that Japan is close to mounting a WCT is well received in ASP circles. Tentative dates have been penciled in for June, but if that objective is not met, all parties are very confident of resurrecting a Japanese WCT in typhoon season 2003.
The Roxy Jam was a success story in 2001, and with Fiji again hosting in 2002, the new 18-women format will be soundly tested in the challenging reef breaks of this South Pacific gem.
Tavarua will again be home to the Quiksilver Pro. There have been epic days of insane Cloudbreak barrels for the men to feast on, and the Teahupoo/Cloudbreak double-act make for an awesome month of deep tube riding and majestic sunsets.
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, slots in to the time honored third week of July. The Billabong Pro is a Hall of Fame event, with the fabled J-Bay providing an awesome canvas for surfing’s performing artists to weave their magic on.
As I write, negotiations are well underway for a mainland USA WCT. Southern California’s premier high performance arena, Lowers at Trestles, will be the venue, and a September date with a decent waiting period is a prime surf combo. Confirmation will be dispersed when available.
After the disappointments of the European cancellations in 2001, the surfing world will focus on the WCT trifecta of Figueira de Foz (Port), the Quiksilver Pro (Fra) and the Billabong Pro (Spn). A huge collective effort went into shifting the European WCT’s into the legendary period of September/October, and this critically important points leg of the Title race will chime in beautifully with the smorgasbord of breaks on offer in European waters in 2002.
The world-renowned Saquarema (Brz) will for the first time host a major WCT in 2002. Brazil’s prime venue offers a variety of powerful breaks, and with the World Cup Soccer Finals scheduled for June 2002, a one-year shift to October will see Saquarema slot in nicely as a chaser to the European leg. We will be back to June in 2003, after the ASP Board of Directors were very accommodating to the tournament promoter’s bid not to run a major surfing tournament in soccer-mad Brazil during World Cup time.
A brilliant Tour finale is slated for Hawaii 2002. Sunset Beach will again host the all-important Rip Curl Cup, and in the coming days plans are unfolding to re-establish the Pipeline Masters as the crowning event of a powerful WCT schedule. Both ASP and our media partner Sportsworld Media Group (SMG) are very keen to finalize arrangements with the folks from the Triple Crown, and we feel that deciding our World Champion at the king of all heavyweight division waves will ensure that the “Dream Tour” lives up to all expectations.
The Billabong Pro will also culminate a progressive women’s Tour in Hawaii. While ASP is working towards the goal of enriching the women’s tour with additional stand-alone events, we are very confident of achieving the result of a women’s Tour to rival the men’s in 2003.
The WQS is also looking impressive next year. The introduction of bonus points for 5 & 6 star WQS events staged in prime surf worked like a charm in 2001, and with all 12 WCT licenses being locked up from 2002 onwards, sponsors will be investing in major WQS events as a vehicle to drive their respective global marketing campaigns.
The inaugural World Longboard Tour (WLT) was one of the success stories of 2001, and with the WLT expanding globally in 2002, the worlds elite Longboarders finally have a world stage to strut their stuff on. The final ink is yet to be put to paper on several new WLT events, and management plans to secure dates for these events some time early in the New Year.
All indications are that the Billabong World Junior Championship will again be set for Phillip Island, Australia. A superbly versatile wave location, P.I. offers a variety of excellent surf venues to test the mettle of tomorrow’s superstars. All seven regions are expanding their junior programs, and as a feeder system in the ASP career path structure, the junior concept is a winner.
After a hugely successful event in Ireland, the Quiksilver World Masters is to be relocated to Hawaii in 2003, but after receiving positive feedback from the legends of the sport, in fact, the very ones who created professional surfing, Quiksilver are negotiating with ASP International regarding a 2002 Masters edition in Hossegor, France.
This represents the most comprehensive World Tour ever, showcasing the world’s greatest surfers in their respective divisions and disciplines. After the ‘closeouts’ of season 2001, fans can look forward to a glorious procession of great events and super-charged performances from the most gifted assemblage of riders ever seen.