This week, the Association of Surfing Professionals released their 2011 World Tour schedule, which includes a yet-to-be-named contest slated for August 31 to September 9 on the East Coast of the United States.
Even prior to the release of the schedule, there has been a fair amount of speculation in the surf world about the possibility of an East Coast World Tour event. On Tuesday, Eastern Surf Magazine posted a juicy bit of gossip indicating that the intended destination for such an event is Long Beach, New York.
According to city officials, a global endemic company is looking to bring the tour to the people of New York. "We met with them two days ago, so nothing has been confirmed, but they have approached the city of Long Beach about holding an ASP event," said Mary Giambalvo, the Public Information Officer for the City of Long Beach, "We have to weigh all the options of how, where, and when."
She added, "This is all about five minutes old."
Long Beach is approximately 29 miles from downtown New York City. It has a rich and varied beach culture next to a population of 8.3 million people. The city, especially Brooklyn, has grown a very enthusiastic surf following.
While the last World Tour event to be held north of Florida was the Garden State Pro in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, in 1988, Long Beach has hosted pro events in the past -- particularly the Unsound Pro, which has run consecutively for the past 12 years. In that time, it has been both an ASP Star event and a non-sanctioned event. In September, Nike 6.0 ran a Grade 4 Pro Junior, in conjunction with the Unsound Pro that bought a lot of national surf interest to the stretch of beach break that define's the city's southern boundary.
The ASP's intended event time slot coincides with the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, which peaks around September 10. This is a common period for Cape Verde storms, which can be ideal wave producers. Since the US started keeping meteorological records, there's been an average of 3.4 hurricanes each September. Facing due south, Long Island sits in very good position to benefit from this groundswell. The East Coast is still a crapshoot, but given a the 10-day waiting period and the new ASP format that allows an event to run in three days, chances of quality swell are likely. The possibility of top-to-bottom overhead barrels is not out of the question either. As a recent run of swell proved, these beaches, on their day, dish up some of the better barrels in the mainland US.
What's more, the time slot allows for the possibility of the event running during Labor Day Weekend, which is one of the top three weekends each year for tourist visits to East Coast beach communities.
Interestingly, Billabong chose to move it's newly acquired Brazilian event, May 11 to 22, to Rio de Janiero, a population of 10 million people. And Rip Curl recently tweaked the philosophy of its Pro Search event to suggest their goal is to bring the top surfers in the world to a community that has never seen them compete before. The new World Tour schedule also makes no mention of an event at Indonesia's G-Land that Quiksilver seemed intent on holding as recently as this past summer.
These moves would indicate that the major event stakeholders on tour are shifting away from the original mission of the so-called "Dream Tour," which sought to bring the best surfers in the world to the best surf, no matter how remote. It would seem that real live audiences are once again an important factor in deciding where to bring the World Tour.