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Rumor: World Surf League considering dropping, shifting, just-announced Mexico event; bumping Surf Ranch up by two weeks!




The World Surf League, née Association of Surfing Professionals, has long been the only governing body the average surf fan cares about or pays attention to. It lays claim to the world’s best surfers, the world’s best waves, and while that notion has been challenged in recent years with the advent of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch and contests there, it remains true that no great competitive professional surfer surfs off the WSL.

Well, for many years the International Surfing Association has worked in the shadows, building a vast network of countries (109 and counting), their national sporting dollars, hosting “World Surfing Games” etc.

The ISA’s chief, and onetime Reef sandal founder/owner Fernando Aguerre, has been a tireless champion for its mission, to “make a better world through surfing (2 ft beachbreak closeouts),” which culminated in surfing’s being accepted into the Olympic Games, the ISA its official governing body ahead of Tokyo.

Very exciting.

Covid, of course, threw (or through depending on dialect) a wrench into the Olympic works but it is all officially back on and months away.

Before Olympic surfing, though, comes the World Surf Games in El Salvador, and here Aguerre sees his moment to wrest more, maybe all, power from the World Surf League.

In a sizzling rumor, it is whispered that the man well-known for colorful suits and playful cultural appropriation, is forcing WSL surfers who have qualified for the Olympics to attend the opening ceremonies, to surf their heats, then attend the closing ceremonies.

Ten-ish full days in El Salvador right in the midst of the WSL’s season.

The World Surfing Games are set to run from May 29th to June 6th. The World Surf League’s Rip Curl Rottnest Search is set to run May 16th to May 26th. If it goes the full window, Olympic-bound WSL surfers will have but days to cross the globe, quarantine in El Salvador, march and wave to adoring fans, surf, march and wave to adoring fans, fly home, quarantine, train, fly to Tokyo, quarantine, train.

The Olympic-bound WSL surfers are, allegedly, furious but Aguerre is unbent. This is his moment to break the World Surf League’s hold and he will not succumb to any pressure campaign.

First alternate on the U.S. team Kelly Slater, it is rumored, has received a doctor’s note that will allow him to miss the World Surfing Games yet attend the Olympics.

Dang trick foot injury that only allows him to surf pristine barrels.

With the WSL in reported financial straits, will this be it? Will owner and co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff hand surfing’s reigns to Aguerre and say, “Good riddance…”?

Next year’s World Champ crowned in Tel Aviv?

More as the story develops.

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