While the WSL had our attention watching the comp in Newcastle last week (Congrats to Italo and Carissa by the way), they dropped an updated 2021 schedule that featured a few new additions. Barra de la Cruz in Mainland Mexico for one and a reboot of the Oi Rio Pro presented by Corona as another.
Rio as in Brazil. As in what is currently the global COVID-19 infection hotspot.
Well, it is over three months away so potentially things could be under control by then but given Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s ongoing denial that the COVID-19 is even a serious issue, we really don’t see that happening
Which bring us to the question at hand: how does the WSL actually choose event locations these days?
Australia is obviously a no-brainer with all the tourism board cash being infused, as well as an enthusiastic support of competitive surfing in general. Hawaii, whenever it may fall, is also an easy choice. Lemoore, sure, they own the joint. Trestles, with its proximity to the surf industry as well as a huge potential viewing audience, would seem to make sense. And Tahiti, well thank God for that.
But both Barra and Rio are head scratchers for various reasons.
It must be assumed that there is financial reasoning to most decisions these days of which would seem to make little sense for Mexico, as it’s not really a country of much commercial interest nor is there a very enthusiastic local spectator community. Perhaps a robust broadcast audience is anticipated given the positive outcome when they rolled into town back in 2006? The reality of that actually being possibly more of a negative when you factor in the exposure this little sleepy town has had to endure since. Many might say it was never the same after that, and not in a good way. Regardless its has to be a high expense/low return location
But then an event in Rio, right now, would seem completely insane and not just because of the ‘rona.
Putting the challenges of keeping everyone safe from COVID exposure aside, we have long wondered how the global surf industry finds return on the money spent on the whole Brazilian ”investment.”
Gabby, Italo, and Pip surely are all up there in salaries paid, plus the expense to “activate” each of them, and others, through additional marketing spends, this must add up to a pretty big number overall. Add the expense to get the whole tour machine down to Rio, of which we hope is significantly subsidized by the title sponsors, it adds up a lot of cash being spent in this region.
Surely the bean counters must have done the maths and in some tangible regard it all adds up. Perhaps there is an unseen potential? Perhaps these markets are seen as developing?
We certainly don’t know at our pay grade.
But ‘Rona be damned, we going to Rio.