"It's about how we're driving the sport..."
The World Surf League’s Chief of Executives, Erik Logan, has been on the job now for a plus-sized handful of years and my how the time flies. If you recall, the handsome Oklahoman, who first came to surfing by way of Oprah Winfrey, began as head of media and studios before being promoted to the top slot. Those studios have since been shuttered, Jeep replaced by exciting ladders, the fifth best surfer an opportunity to win it all and a mid-year cut that sprays open-jawed surf fans with fresh blood.
Much innovation, though in an explosive new interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Logan telegraphs “seismic changes” just over the horizon.
We want to get through this year before we make any seismic changes. Once we get through 2023, 2024 is an Olympic year. That’s a good opportunity to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. And I think it’s fair to assume that we as a league will make refinements to these [formats]. We’re always talking to our surfers about ways to enhance the competitive arena… how we think about the finals formats and also the mid-year cuts. It made huge news and there was a lot of drama when it was introduced at Bells and also at Margaret River. The mid-season cut raised the stakes right in the middle [of the season] and it really drove more viewership and more engagement (including a 35% uptick in “consumption). And then the second year of running the Ripcurl WSL Finals was massive drama and massive stakes, when we watched what Steph Gilmore did by running the table and winning her eighth world title. It’s about how we’re driving the sport and how we’re going to make these improvements in the sport and having a smaller field post-cut yields all these other advantages.
I’m having trouble finding the potential for earthquakes in that tasty word salad but, at the end, Logan does say he “respects” Bethany Hamilton’s views regarding the World Surf League’s new trans-inclusive policy.