Schedule dispute threatens Hawaii’s World Surf League events

HONOLULU — The World Surf League has threatened to leave Honolulu off its 2019 schedule of events if the city doesn’t grant its request to change the date of one of its premier contests.

The surf league needs to move the Billabong Pipe Masters from its traditional December dates to a January period, the Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

Surf league CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said the full slate of events in Hawaii could be canceled next year unless the issue is resolved within the next few days.

But Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he isn’t happy with the surf league’s request. He said he sees the situation as the organization’s attempt to “usurp” the permit-application process and strong-arm the city into acceding to its demands before it has secured the requested dates.

“The WSL missed deadlines in the process and now they’re trying to take dates that others have applied for prior to the process being completed,” Caldwell said. “That’s not how we do business in Hawaii. That isn’t pono.”

Formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals, the surf league stages numerous surfing events in Hawaii, including the Championship Tour events, the Billabong Pipe Masters and Maui Women’s Pro; qualifying events including the Sunset Open, Volcom Pipe Pro, Turtle Bay Pro, HIC Pro, Hawaiian Pro and Vans World Cup; and various big-wave, junior, longboard and specialty meets.

Goldschmidt said the surf league is in the process of streamlining its events calendar to allow for a better defined professional surf season. The organization applied to hold the Sunset Open in January 2019 but wants to use those dates instead for the Pipe Masters, moving the Sunset Open to the December 2019 holding period it originally requested for the other event.

“We’re not asking to add any windows or days,” Goldschmidt said. “From our perspective, it’s a no-brainer. … 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.”

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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