THE Australian Open will herald the return of competitive surfing later in the year, with Victoria set to be among the hosts.
The announcement came less than a week after the World Surf League (WSL) announced the cancellation of the 2020 Championship Tour, including the 2020 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
The Australian Open will include a minimum of seven events, starting on September 19 at the Sunshine Coast.
Victoria is set to host one of the seven events, but the time and place are still to be confirmed.
Surfing Victoria chief executive officer Adam Robertson said the announcement was good news for both professional and aspiring surfers.
“The 2020 Australian Open of Surfing Tour gives competitive surfers from Victoria and across Australia a chance to get back into competition and begin earning prize money again. With such a long time off, this series is a great opportunity to build some momentum heading into the restart of the Qualifying Series in 2021.”
“I remember having the Australian Championship Circuit back when I was growing up and getting the chance to see high-level competitive surfing on a regular basis around the country was great for my development as a surfer.”
The WSL 2020 Championship Tour faced the added barrier of international travel and subsequently decided it was not viable to run.
However, the WSL paired the announcement of the tour’s cancellation with the announcement of the 2021 season fixtures, as well as some changes to the competition’s format.
The 2021 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will take place from April 1-11. It will be the second of three consecutive championship events held in Australia, taking place in between the Corona Open Gold Coast (March 18-28) and the Margaret River Pro (April 16-26).
The 2021 Championship Season will be the first time the WSL holds an equal number of events for men and women, as they will all compete in the same 10 locations.
It will also see the induction of the WSL Finals. This will see the World Titles decided in a single-day event featuring the top five male and top five female surfers from across the season.