It seems that after some questions were raised about O'Neill bringing a 6-star Cold Water Classic event to Nova Scotia, to be held Sept. 19-25, the company has announced that there will be no Canadian event, at least not for 2011
In 2009 and 2010, O'Neill had Tofino, British Columbia on its CWC circuit, a successful mini-tour of high-rated, low temp events within the ASP's qualifying schedule. In late May, Nova Scotian surfers spoke out when the Halifax Regional Municipality was ready to give the surf company $145,000 to bring the event to breaks outside Halifax. The most vocal surfers, organized under the Nova Scotia Surfing Association, were not necessarily opposed to the event, but highly concerned that neither the local officials, nor O'Neill had contacted local surfers to address common sense issues about logistics in an area that had never seen an event of this magnitude.
The HRM eventually granted O'Neill the money as a tourism investment, but under the condition that the company would consult the surfers and local residents in the planning stages.
On May 26, Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly told ESPN Surfing, "We were concerned with the lack of communication. Part of our commitment moving forward is to involve the community -- surfers and community at large -- on transportation, traffic, impact and other issues."
While SANS President, Justin Huston was encouraged by the decision and O'Neill's willingness to reach out, the question of waves weighed on everyone's mind. An event of this size takes five days to run, and even three-day swells in the Atlantic are rare.
In a statement released Friday, O'Neill announced that the company "regrets to announce the cancellation of the O'Neill CWC Canada for 2011. Extensive consultation and discussion with key event stakeholders, along with a short period to properly prepare for the event, have led to this decision. During preliminary planning it became clear [that] a shorter than usual planning window jeopardized the success of a 2011 CWC in Nova Scotia."
The event is still on the ASP's Men's star schedule as of Friday, but Canada is no longer on O'Neill's Cold Water Classic site.
According to Huston, he's not sure whether his meetings with Pascal Moisan, Marketing Manager for O'Neill Canada, had anything to do with that decision. "It may have played some role. HRM put some pretty tight constraints about meeting with the community to move forward. O'Neill appreciated the approach we took, generally getting it out there and gauging the local consensus. But you can't take all this into account and put it to work in such a short amount of time," said Huston.
O'Neill's statement went on to say, "The beautiful and unique location would serve as an exciting new chapter to the CWC series. O'Neill intends to review Nova Scotia as a possible CWC location for 2012. O'Neill would like to thank the Halifax Regional Municipality, all local agencies, and the community for their support and input."
Huston and SANS remain neutral on this issue.
"If they intend to explore the options for 2012, SANS is willing to come to the table," he adds.
Unless O'Neill comes up with a new venue, this also means that the Cold Water Classic, offering $50,000 for the overall winner, is down one event in 2011. After the CWC New Zealand and CWC Scotland, Brent Dorrington of Australia, who won the Scotland contest, leads the series with 4,420 points. Aussie Adam Melling is in second with 3,500, followed by Joan Duru of France and Jay Quinn of New Zealand. The overall winner will now be decided at the ASP Prime Cold Water Classic California in Santa Cruz on Oct. 26-30.