“I got this distressed phone call from Andrew Stark [World Surf League General Manager] saying, ‘I need your permission to put an event on’. I rang my Events Manager Lisa [Dowsett] and said, ‘Can you put a WSL event on in two weeks?’ and I heard a few expletives then… ‘Sure Mr Mayor’ ” – Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan.
We recommend you have a read of this great backstory and general write up by the Northern Beaches Advocate, detailing how the World Surfing League event was nabbed from under the nose of the Queensland Government. The event will be held in Narrabeen this April.
World Surfing League’s media release below:
SYDNEY, New South Wales, Australia (Tuesday, February 16, 2021) – Today, the World Surf League (WSL) confirmed the updated schedule for the Championship Tour (CT) Australian leg, announcing the three upcoming events in North Narrabeen (NSW), Margaret River (WA), and Rottnest Island (WA). The WSL also announced the cancellation of the Corona Open Gold Coast pres. by Billabong and the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and
Australian Leg of 2021 WSL Championship Tour:
All tour stops and dates subject to change due to applicable COVID-19 related restrictions, including global travel restrictions.
- Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona: April 1 – 11
- Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic pres. by Corona: April 16 – 26
- Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro pres. by Corona: May 2-12
- Rip Curl Rottnest Search pres. by Corona: May 16 – 26
The WSL will concentrate its Australian CT events in New South Wales and Western Australia, following approvals for pre-approved quarantine bubbles. The WSL could not achieve these bubbles in Victoria and Queensland in the short amount of time it needed to do so but could in Western Australia, hence the two events in each state given the charter of international athletes lands in NSW.
“The WSL is truly excited to have the CT coming back to Australia in 2021 with the addition of an extra event,” said WSL APAC General Manager, Andrew Stark. “This year, the Aussie CT leg is looking very different to what we’re used to due to COVID-19, with the addition of three new stops. Although it’s genuinely disappointing to miss locations like Bells Beach and Snapper Rocks this year, we are stoked to add Newcastle, North Narrabeen and Rottnest Island to the schedule. We would like to sincerely thank all of our partners for their patience, understanding and support during this extremely difficult time. The WSL can’t wait to get the tour back underway and run epic and safe events for our athletes, fans and partners in Australia.”
Last week, the WSL announced the agreement with the New South Wales Government that will see all international competitors board a chartered flight in Los Angeles that will land in Sydney. Once in Australia, all traveling athletes and support staff will undergo the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine and must receive a medical clearance from public health officials before entering the general community and preparing for competition in Newcastle. The Government is not funding the quarantine.
The WSL will implement a robust and thorough COVID-19 health and safety plan for each event during the Australian leg of the CT in accordance with federal and state guidance. The WSL’s health and safety plan includes physical distancing measures, temperature checks, enhanced high-touch cleaning at the event site, contact tracing procedures, sanitizer stations throughout the event site, and minimal personnel on-site.
Three New Stops Added to 2021 Championship Tour
Joining Margaret River on the elite CT will be three new CT stops in New South Wales and Western Australia. The opening stop of the Australian leg will see the Championship Tour head to the pro surfing hub of Merewether Beach in Newcastle continuing over 35 years of professional surfing history in this iconic Australian city.
Following Newcastle, the CT will head south to the Northern Beaches of Sydney to North Narrabeen. Similarly to Newcastle, North Narrabeen has a rich surfing lineage producing some of surfing’s biggest names. Home to legends such as Simon Anderson, Nathan Hedge, Laura Enever and Damien Hardman to name a few, the high-performance lefts of North Narra have hosted dozens of professional events over the last four decades with the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic pres. by Corona CT being the first event since the World Junior Championships over a decade ago.
“Narrabeen is one of Australia’s most iconic surfing beaches and we want to make sure the community can make the most of the recreational, tourism and economic benefits that surfing provides,” said NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro. “The impacts of COVID-19 hit the Northern Beaches hard, with forced lockdowns over Christmas last year, and our support for this event will stimulate the local economy and showcase Narrabeen as a world-class surfing and tourism destination.”
“This highly coveted Championship Tour will bring much-needed tourism dollars into the local shops, eateries, and accommodation here in Narrabeen and surrounds, helping to rebuild our economy after a very tough year for many local businesses,” said Rob Stokes, Member for Pittwater. “I’m thrilled to see this spectacular event coming to our shores, boosting our profile on the global stage and encouraging a sense of pride in our community.
“This is a huge opportunity to showcase the Northern Beaches on the world stage for eleven days,” said Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan. “The WSL is a perfect fit with the lifestyle we are very proud of in our coastal community.This will bring much-needed economic activity and jobs to local businesses.”
“We haven’t had a combined world tour event on the Northern Beaches for over 20 years, it is going to be great for surfers, particularly grommets, to see the best surfers in the world competing at Narrabeen, the most consistent wave in Sydney,” said local legend and two-time World Champion Damien Hardman. “After the impact of the Northern Beaches being forced into a COVID lockdown over the busy Xmas period this event could not come at a better time for many businesses.”
The third event of the Australian leg is a more familiar one for competitors and surf fans alike, Margaret River, where competition returns to the rugged and raw waters of South West Western Australia. Competitors will be tested as always with one of the most diverse events seeing Main Break and The Box coming into play across the event window.
“Boost Mobile is on Australia’s Biggest Mobile Network and has been a supporter of Athletes and Professional surfing at various levels over the past 20 years,” said Boost Mobile General Manager Jason Haynes. “We are proud to continue our partnership as the official telco of WSL and as naming rights to the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro in WA. The Margaret River area produces some world class waves and WSL produces an exceptional broadcast, so despite potential limited on site specataros the WSL team will put the fans in the perfect seat to watch all the competition, drama and action unfold.”
The pristine nature reserve of Rottnest Island will host the fourth stop of the Australian Championship Tour leg. The island is offshore from Western Australia’s capital, Perth, and its breaks are some of the most consistent in the state. Strickland Bay, where the event will take place, is predominantly a left and is considered one of the best waves in south-west Western Australia.
“This is a fantastic result for Western Australia and demonstrates how great the surfing opportunities are throughout our State,” said WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia. “International and national viewers will be able to see how pristine the marine environment is around Rottnest Island and get a taste of what makes this island so special. The World Surf League competitors will also be able to meet the world’s happiest animal, the quokka, and experience firsthand Rottnest’s unique environment. The McGowan Government is very pleased to be able to support this new leg on the Australian calendar following our securing of the Margaret River Pro until at least 2024.”
“This one off event represents another real opportunity for a WA female and male surfer to compete at the highest level possible in Surfing,” said Surfing WA CEO Mark Lane. “Bronte Macaulay and Jack Robinson are both examples of WA surfers who have been provided with a similar opportunity via Wild Card positions in the past – and have successfully taken the step to legitimately earn themself a full time position on the World Championship Tour.”
Although Rottnest Island will remain open for visitors while hosting the event, spectators won’t be permitted at Strickland Bay because it is a broadcast only event.