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New surfing tour featuring Kelly Slater, among others, appears to be taking shape

September 8, 2009 |  2:24 pm

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The long-anticipated Hurley Pro gets underway beginning Sunday at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, and it remains to be seen whether nine-time world champion Kelly Slater will win the event for the third year in a row.

Perhaps more intriguing, though, is whether the gathering of the world's best surfers and the surfing media in Southern California, which is headquarters for the surfing industry, will provide an advantageous setting for even bigger news.

Namely, will there be an announcement regarding the formulation of an alternative tour--involving Slater--that promises to deliver pro surfing to the mainstream and threatens to diminish the Assn. of Surfing Professionals' elite World Tour?

Parties involved in a potential partnership, notably Slater and ESPN, are keeping quiet but sources have indicated that tour stops and dates have been tentatively mapped out and that an announcement will be made as early as next week.

Reports circulating on websites in recent months have implied that the new tour will boast eight events and offer a total purse of more than $1 million. Even last-place finishers would earn $40,000 per event. Several top pros are rumored to support what has been referred to as the Rebel Tour, Renegade Tour, Breakaway Tour and even the Dreamier Dream Tour.

It remains to be seen how much of this is true or whether a new tour would diminish or peacefully coexist with the ASP tour. But details of some sort are being worked out and unless some kind of statement is issued beforehand, this issue could create a sizable distraction for the Hurley Pro--which is the only World Tour event on the U.S. mainland.

-- Pete Thomas 

Photo: Kelly Slater goes airborne during last year's Boost Mobile Pro, now named the Hurley Pro. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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