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WSL: “Exploring all options” for 2019!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

And may I make a suggestion?

You are certainly well aware, by now, of the current stalemate on Oahu between Honolulu’s mayor Kirk Caldwell and our own World Surf League. At issue is the current allotment of permits. The WSL, which has traditionally held its Pipeline Masters contest in December, wants to move the event to January and the slot held by Volcom for its Pipe Pro. The mayor’s office denied the WSL’s request leaving the league “very disappointed” and “exploring all possible options for our schedule moving forward.”

Now, I don’t mean to poke my nose in other people’s business but “all possible options” is a very exciting proposal and would it be too bold of me to make a suggestion?


Oh bear with me here and please let me explain. Yemen has nearly 2000 miles of coastline, a good 1200 of it surfable, and this does not include the nearby island of Soqotra. The climate, though slightly warmer than most stops on tour, is pleasant enough especially when enjoying a cheek full of qat on the veranda of an old British outpost. The largest coastal town, Aden, is a very good time and I think the surfers on tour would have fun shooting Kalashnikovs into the air and cursing the Saudis and their rotund children on their way in and out of the country.

The surf in Aden is not the best though and I think the World Surf League would do well to explore the area around Mukalla and Al Ghaydah. Mukalla has more infrastructure as well as a larger population and I do think the imams would very much like watching professional surfing but Al Ghaydah, shrouded in monsoonal mists, sparks the imagination. Pirates often come to shore here, offloading pilfered goods bound to points north, and sometimes fight with local Al-Qaeda affiliates. I do think if one of these fights happened during a heat it would get many views, maybe even as many as a great white shark attacking Mick Fanning.

Qishn and Sayhut could be used as backup locations and if the league would like another stop, it should consider Soqotra. The island is very magical and has a history of hosting semi-professional events. When I was last there with my two best friends, a day’s walk from the nearest fishing huts, some locals told us about the last time athletes dawned their shore. It was some 30 years prior and a Soviet submarine unexpectedly surfaced. The Russian submariners came ashore and played volleyball, or so it was said.

Best of all, at time of writing, Yemen currently has no surf contest scheduled for the 2018-2019 season and, thus, no permitting issues. The WSL could pick any date on the calendar and I think could have month long windows, if so desired.

I think this is a very good idea. It is called the “World” Surf League after all.