Is a rebel tour possible?

Written by Brian Roddy
Musing on the hypothetical opportunity for an organisation to dethrone the World Surf League.
Brother's keeper
Brother's keeper
Surfing has that one thing that skateboarding and snowboarding lack: an accredited, structured organisation that doles out an annual world title. The WSL is that organisation, and the WCT is their tour. Each year, the WCT travels the world and makes stops at the world’s best waves. Points are rewarded for results at each stop and at the end of the year, we have a world champion. Not a Dew Tour champion or an X Games champion. A world champion. And, for that, we should be grateful.
But what if.
What if things were different. Surfing is beautifully subjective – there is no goal, no net, basket or end zone. What’s good and what’s bad has always been a product of opinion. And so, unlike other sports, there are no real rules. And because there are no rules, the governing body has no true foundation. It’s just one big, structured opinion. And there’s nothing glaringly wrong about how the WSL operates. It’s just that, well, what if.
What if a rebel tour emerged. A challenger to the WSL, and something that reinvents our idea of competitive surfing. It’s possible. But where exactly does it exist in the realm of possibility? The successful emergence of a rebel tour would be heavily reliant on three key factors.
1. A structure that offers something the WSL couldn’t
2. Top-tier surfers getting involved
3. A system that appeals to both committed surfers and the mainstream
And in order to attain all of those things, you’d need:
1. Ingenuity
2. A lot of money
The list may seem a bit simple, but concocting all of them would take a lot. The WSL has the world’s best surfers contractually married to them – if you’re on the WCT, you’re not allowed to surf in any event that the WSL doesn’t sanction. So it’s not like Michel Bourez could be double-dipping in the ‘CT and on this hypothetical rebel tour. But there is a plethora of amazing surfers that aren’t on the WCT. From Jamie O’Brien to Dane Reynolds, there exists a genre of hyper-progressive surfer that have no organisation to call home. So the talent is there. And if a rebel tour enticed some of those guys and then gained steam, there’s a chance you’d see some WCTers turn their back on the WSL. So, really, all it takes is an idea.
That and a big cheque.