Mayhaps the Tour Is Dead. (For Now).
By Dan Dobbin.
Can anybody realistically see a world tour being a viable option for deciding our world champion this year or even into the foreseeable future?
The challenges of travelling the world for months on end on limited finances have been well documented, probably best by our own Stuart Knox here:
The world tour model was already a shaky prospect pre Novel Corona, post Covid it’s almost an impossibility.
Let’s start with the first hurdle: getting to the competitions.
Before Covid struck budget travel companies made international travel the cheapest and most accessible it has ever been. Competitors relied on these companies for rates affordable enough to make travelling to events a fiancially achievable prostpect.
If / when the airline industry does resume, the price of a ticket will probably be drastically increased as mandatory one seat spacings between passengers are enforced.
Using 2020’s proposed your schedule as a guide, five of the nine events where to take place in South America, two in Europe and single events in Australia and South Africa, split between Qualifing Events (QS) and Grand Slam (GS) events. Results are tabulated from competitors best 3 GS results and 1 QS result.
Given that 3 of the 4 GS events are in South America, unless that are Latin America based, it’s almost a given that a would be champion would need to utalise air travel.
Even for competitors within the Latin zone, most countries have shut their borders for the foreseeable future. The ones that are open have mandatory quarantine periods. This is probably the new normal, at least until if / when a vaccine is developed.
All of this adds a significant barrier to anyone thinking of trying to run or compete on a world tour.
Then there’s sponsor income streams.
Even before Covid-19 the sponsorship dollars to support riders and fund competitions was difficult to secure.
Much of the funding for competitions was tied to local / regional / state government bodies in conjunction with tourism bodies.
With international travel all but finished for at least the foreseeable future, the prospect of money being poured into tourism campaigns and events to attract overseas visitors by these bodies seems fanciful.
It seems like the only real prospect of crowning a world champion moving forward into the is the singular World Tour Event ( W.T.E.). The one contest, winner takes all approach of yore.
While there is no doubt that a true tour ensures that the best competitor of that year becomes champion, there is plenty of precedent and evidence to suggest that in a W.T.E the cream will rise to the top.
Cast your mind over the names that have won the pipeline contest over the four odd decades it’s run. See any weak winners? Paulo Barcellos maybe, but you’d hard pressed to argue that any other of the past winners wouldn’t be worthy world champion’s.
Even in this years pipe contest, which, with no disrespect to those that competed or the winner Iain Campbell, featured the weakest field in a long time, the best riders in the comp ended up in the final, battling it out for the title.
Olympic gold medals are exclusively decided on one event performances, which is often what makes them so exilerating to view. Who can handle the pressure the best and perform on the day to triumph.
Almost all major sporting codes from across the globe employ a climatic, winner takes all, all or nothing, pressure cooker end to their competitions. Grand finals, World cup finals, the Kentucky Derby, the Melbourne cup, the Superbowl.
All iconic fixtures that rely on a singular performance to determine a champion.
Perhaps it’s time to go back to the future once again.
Pipeline in January.
The best riders from around the globe. Pressure cooker heats. All out performances. Whoever triumphs becomes World Champion.
It’s a little arresting to realize that the World title hasn’t been decided by a single event since well before the advent of instant live streaming.
You could all but guarantee the bulk of bodyboarders world wide would be glued to every heat.
Can you imagine the advertising and media expose opportunities that could be drawn from such an event?
So I say to you brothers and sister:
Viva la Pipeline! Viva la one World Title Event!