Waves of change come over ASP international
ASP International has announced some major changes to its organisation, tour structure and announcement of next year's richest surfing event during the US Open at Huntington Beach at the ASP Board biannual meeting.
Not since the introduction of the ASP World Dream Tour and its vision of exotic locations introduced by former president Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew have there been so many sweeping changes.
What wasn't announced was the cancellation of the Billabong Pro women's event to be held at the end of the year in Hawaii at Honolua Bay, Maui.
This will bring the women's tour back to eight events and will climax at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Hawaii. Unfortunately USA Billabong made a marketing decision to ditch the Maui event after 10 years as it was up against the men's Pipeline Masters Billabong Pro held at the same time on the North Shore of Oahu at the famous Banzai Pipeline.
There are now three WCT events remaining on the ladies' calendar that is Portugal (October), Puerto Rico (November) both sponsored by Rip Curl, incidentally Stephanie Gilmore's sponsor, and the final Hawaiian countdown at Sunset for the Gidget Pro.
Steph, who is the three-times World women champion, is chasing her fourth consecutive title and is currently leading the ASP ratings by only 492 points from Gerroa's Sally Fitzgibbons.
Steph is holding three firsts compared to Sally's three seconds.
Gilmore's worst result is a ninth in NZ by rookie Sarah Mason and will be a throw-away as the girls are allowed one bad result to be thrown using their best seven out of eight results for the final tally. Gilmore has claimed her last three World titles prior to Honolua Bay. If Sally Fitzgibbons can break the bridesmaid tag and win the next three events, the 2010 World title will be hers. The loss of the Hawaiian event affects the Hawaiian girls more, such as Coco Ho and especially 17-year-old Carissa Moore, who won the US Open and gave Sally another runner-up position.
The compensation for the loss of the women's Honolua Bay event will be a bigger event sponsored by Billabong for next year's ASP women's tour in Brazil together with the men's which has been boosted to $US500,000 for the men's and $120,000 for the women's.
The change of location from Hawaii to Rio de Janeiro has met a mixed reaction from the women competitors who would have preferred to be alongside the men's event at Jeffrey's Bay or in Hawaii. However the upside of Rio will be an increase in prizemoney.