Earlier today WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt received a letter from Kirk Caldwell, the mayor of Honolulu, suggesting that it is highly unlikely the WSL will be able to host an event at Pipe at the start of their new look 2019 season as intended.
The letter is the culmination of a few weeks of intense negotiations after an administrative oversight by the WSL left them unable to obtain a permit for the 2019 Pipeline Masters.
Simply put, they messed up their initial submission and then missed the deadline to amend it. On receiving the news initially, CEO Sophie Goldschmidt flew out to Hawaii in order to meet directly with officials and plead with them to bend the rules on this occasion and grant the permit, however based on the content of the letter released today that outcome seems increasingly unlikely.
“Please know the city fully appreciates the economic spending the WSL brings to the islands, but as I’ve stated, this is an issue about fairness, not about money.” it read. “You have stated that the changes are minor, and if this is truly the case, we are perplexed that you would jeopardize your relationship to Hawaii on a minor change. I sincerely hope the WSL will continue to hold events in Hawaii, the birthplace of the sport of surfing.”
Before concluding: “I reviewed the variances you are requesting and I am unable to accommodate the WSL.”
Goldsmicht had previously played down the issue in an interview with the Honolulu Star Advertiser over the weekend, stating “We’re not asking to add any windows or days..It’s a very minimal administrative issue. From our perspective; it’s a no brainer.”
The proposal would mean replacing the 2019 Pipe Pro (a WQS) with the Pipe Masters, however there is undoubtedly more at play than a simple administrative switch-a-roo. The former event offers far more local Hawaiians the chance to compete, a fact that is obviously important to the surfers and government of Hawaii.
The Pipe masters also draws a far larger crowd and as a result causes a more significant disruption to the island. It is due to these factors and more that the proposal would have required careful consideration by the Parks and Rec panel, a process which has not been possible due the the WSL’s failings.
Ms Goldshmit has since said that if they can’t hold the Pipe Masters at the time they want, they may pull all their events from Hawaii altogether (that means no triple crown) in a move that would surely have a grave impact on the Hawaiian economy. But, the impacts of bending the rules to accommodate the WSL could also be severe.
If other event applicants, who have played by the rules, did not receive their permits to make way for the WSL it could have serious consequences in the lawsuit-hungry USA, where such a move would undoubtedly set the scene for legal action that could end up costing the government dearly.
The sum total of this evidence, as originally compiled by Rory Parker for Stab, means that it is seems highly unlikely there will be a Pipe Masters in 2019, and possible that there will be no WSL events in Hawaii at all.
Many surf fans have welcomed the governments unwavering stance, seeing it as a victory against cooperate imperialism, where a strongly lead government valiantly overturns the imperatives of a global cooperation. Others though, see it merely as bureaucratic blunder that could and should be righted for the good of all involved, although this group appear to be in the minority.
As with the fury ignited at the news the WSL will be continuing streaming for free exclusively on Facebook live, this reaction seems to suggest that many surf fans still value our sport’s anti-cooperate counter-cultural routes over the incredible, totally free entertainment that corporatisation has brought us.
Cover photo: James Parry