If you’ve been religiously following WSL’s world tour, you would know that it has been undergoing a complete overhaul – from structure to its schedule. If not, here’s a quick rundown for you – Fiji and Trestles have been booted out, Kelly Slater’s wave pool is in, and Pipe will be the last stop of the 2018 season and will kick off 2019’s tour. Well, that was the original plan until WSL wasn’t granted the permit for the next year’s tour.
In what appeared to be an oversight in filing the permit, WSL may have to forgo Hawaii for 2019. Permits are granted per season (not per year) and because they wanted to hold back-to-back events in Hawaii, the league had to file for two permits and they did not. They filed for one. And when they realized the mistake, it was too late because the deadline (which was extended for three more weeks) had already passed.
Now, this is where the tension started building. In hopes of getting things back on track, New WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt wrote to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell asking for reconsideration along with a reminder that their events have brought in more than $20 million to the state. She also wrote, “Before proceeding with our February global announcement of the new 2019 Championship Tour Schedule—devoid of any Hawaii events—we are reaching out in one final attempt to keep Hawaii’s ultimate position in the sport of surfing in tact [sic].”
Mayor Caldwell respectfully replied saying he couldn’t accommodate WSL because he had no authority grant variances and had to comply with the process to ensure fairness with other applying organizations. This led to Goldschmidt flying to Hawaii to meet the mayor and other council members to win an exception. The mayor was, however, unavailable. And when it seemed that there’s no way to overturn the decision, Goldschmidt told Honolulu Star-Advertiser that she feels WSL is not being “treated fairly” and left what seemed to be a threat of completely leaving out Hawaii from future world tours if the permit issue wasn’t sorted out.
“I’m concerned and I hope logic will prevail,” she said. “If we can’t get these minor administrative changes made, we won’t be able to come back in 2019, and if that happens the likelihood is that we won’t be able to return for years.”
Goldschmidt never explained why WSL missed the deadline and Hawaii’s local officials look determined to stand by their initial decision. It seems like a done deal and WSL may need to find a replacement for Hawaii for the 2019 season.
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