SAN DIEGO Professional surfers will be riding the waves again on Sunday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sport in March.
The Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, some 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, will provide a perfect bubble for the World Surf Leagues Rumble at the Ranch featuring 16 surfers, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and Olympic qualifiers Kolohe Andino, Caroline Marks and four-time reigning world champ Carissa Moore. Theyll compete in a mixed doubles event for charity.
Its a welcome return for a sport that was set to make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed for a year.
Its a specialty event, so the importance comes with, hey, athletes havent gotten to put on a jersey in five to eight months and the fans havent gotten to see live surfing in that amount of time, either, Moore said in a phone interview. I think its good for everyone to get going again. I also think its something positive and a good distraction for us. Im really looking forward to it.
The WSL has had events the last few years at the Surf Ranch, which was developed by the Kelly Slater Wave Company and is owned by the WSL.
Its very fun, Moore said. You can imagine that every surfers dream is to surf a perfect wave over and over again. Its really different. I mean, youre surfing in the middle of nowhere. The competition is super different, too, because you dont get much time to warm up because of the number of athletes competing.
Moore hasnt competed since a contest in Australia in March, just before the WSL shut down due to the pandemic. She returned to her home in Hawaii.
She qualified for the Olympics in December. The Tokyo Games were postponed in late March.
I think its the best decision for everyone at this time, Moore said. Im very grateful its being postponed and not canceled, and that Im still part of the U.S. team. Theres a lot of positives, like getting another year to train. I just hope that it still happens.
The goal is still there, she said. I surf every day. Its part of my lifestyle. Ill keep surfing every day. As travel restrictions start to open up, Ill try to venture out a bit and try to do the contests that I can.
Slater, 48, failed to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. He was eliminated from contention at the last qualifying contest, the season-ending Pipe Masters on the North Shore of Oahu in mid-December.
The WSL’s 2021 tour is scheduled to start in November on Maui for the women and in December on Oahu for the men, subject to the approval of state and local government agencies, as well as effective protocols that allow for safe international travel.
Sundays contest will be broadcast live on WorldSurfLeague.com and FOX Sports starting at noon PDT.
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