Assn. of Surfing Professionals announces sweeping changes for next season
The long-rumored breakaway pro surfing tour seemingly is dead now that the Assn. of Surfing Professionals has announced sweeping changes that seem to have full support of the world's top surfers.
The changes include a single ratings system, more prize money and benefits for surfers.
Brodie Carr, ASP International CEO, announced the changes today in Spain, where the Billabong Pro Mundaka is in progress. “We have just completed a period of intense discussion with the world’s best surfers and the world’s best events which culminated in the unanimous support of the ASP and the commitment to the continuation of crowning undisputed world champions, as we have done so for 30 years, for generations to come,” Carr said.
As expected, the ASP next season will implement a single rating system that will include both the ASP World Tour and the ASP World Qualifying Series tour. Also, the World Tour field will be reduced from 45 plus three wild cards to 32 plus four wild cards.
That change will be made halfway through next season to give those who qualify for next season’s World Tour enough opportunity to establish themselves in the Top 32.
A smaller World Tour field is something the top-tier surfers had been striving for.
“By trimming back the field as well as instituting the one-world rating system, we ensure the ASP World Tour continues to be the most progressive and dynamic professional surfing tour on Earth,” said Mick Fanning, a former world champion and the tour surfers' representative.
Fanning is ranked No. 2 and involved in a world title race with ratings leader and fellow Australian Joel Parkinson. “The ASP has been the home of the best surfers and the best waves for over 30 years and our commitment to instituting these changes is illustrative of our position at the forefront of surfing," Fanning continued.Prize money for the men's and women's world tours also will be increased beginning next season. The purse for ASP World Tour events will increase from $340,000 to $400,000 in 2010, or annually (for 10 events) from $3.4 million to $4 million. The ASP Women’s World Tour prize pool will increase from $630,000 to $800,000 in 2010.
An additional $100,000 bonus will be awarded to the year-end men's world champion, and a $30,000 bonus will be given to the women's world champion.
Additionally, the ASP will provide full insurance coverage and a pension plan.
The ASP board structure also will change and include a women's tour representative.
“It’s fantastic that the women will become voting members of the ASP Board of Directors,” Jessi Miley-Dyer, ASP Women's tour rep said. “The current board has done an incredible job in directing the tour and has been instrumental in providing career pathways and tours for both male and female surfers. Having a female representative on the board dovetails perfectly into the positive, global response we’re receiving on the ASP Women’s World Tour right now, and I look forward to seeing the benefits of such a shift in focus.”
If this in fact puts an end to rumors of a breakaway tour, that's another positive, because that has been a major distraction, but one that has led to these changes on a tour some said had become stagnant.-- Pete Thomas
Photo: ASP surfers and board members announce changes for the men's and women's world tours. Credit: ASP/ CI / Scholtz via Getty Images