With Billabong obtaining the license for the WCT contest at Teahupo’o, Tahiti (see story), many in the industry have been wondering what this means for Gotcha, the previous sponsor of the Tahiti event.
Well, wonder no longer. According to Marketing Director Mike Cruikshank, Gotcha will sponsor the new WCT event at Pipeline, which will kick off the 2002 tour in February.
“We wanted to do Teahupo’o, and had every intention to do the event.” says Cruikshank. “But when we were offered the Pipe event, it changed our thinking. In light of how much Tahiti costs to run, we thought it made more sense to sponsor the event at Pipeline. However, if we weren’t offered the Pipe contest, we would have sponsored Teahupo’o.”
**** Announcing the GSS02 ****
The permit for the February time slot is held by Reid Inouye, director of the Hawaiian Pro-Am Circuit of Surfing (HPAC). Last year the permit was used for the HPAC HIC Pro.
“The Pipe event will be the last of four events in the Hawaiian Grand Slam of Surfing (GSS02),” says Inouye, “the first three will serve as qualifiers for the three slots at Pipe. You’ll be looking at three insane sites: Kauai will be a local pro event with minimum 10,000-dollar purse, then on to Sunset for 20,000 to 40,000 prize money QS, then a spot I cannot mention pending support from the State and County with mind blowing waves for a 20,000-dollar QS event.”
“The winner of the entire GSS02 will get a minimum bonus of 10,000 dollars,” continues Inouye. “The three highest point leaders of the first three events get slotted for the Pipe contest — meaning the three events are local qualifiers.
Look for more on the GSS02 in the weeks to come.
**** A U.S. Brand At Pipe *****
“February is a great time to hold the contest,” says Cruikshank. “Usually all the sand has cleared out of the channel and conditions can be really good.”
Gotcha had first right of refusal for the Teahupo’o license, but decided against matching the price Billabong offered Bluetorch for the event.
Cruikshank is especially excited that Gotcha will be the first U.S. surf brand to sponsor a Pipe contest in fifteen years. “Not to take anything away from previous Pipe contest sponsors, such as German company Chiemsee or French company Oxbow, but I think Gotcha will do a better job with the marketing of the event here in the U.S. and doing the whole media thing.”
There was talk that the North Shore community was initially reluctant to embrace a WCT event in February, but Cruikshank says it’s a quality — not quantity — issue: “I think the residents are against the amateur and pro-am types of contests. I don’t think they are as opposed to seeing the best surfers in the world — plus we’re only taking over an existing permit, not adding a new contest.”
Cruikshank loves Teahupo’o and was on the first Gotcha trip to the break back in the day, but thinks Pipe is actually a better contest venue. “It’s a natural arena that provides spectators with a view of the action you can’t find at other spots,” he says.
With the announcement, it appears the 2002 WCT schedule is back up to eleven events. The Trestles permit is still open. Who’s going to make it an even dozen? Stay tuned.