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Future of Triple Crown of Surfing in Jeopardy Over Permit Issue

The future of the Billabong Pipe Masters competition, an event beloved by fans ands locals alike,  remains uncertain amidst the controversy.  WSL / Laurent Masurel 

According to Khon2, the future of one of the World Surf League’s most famous surfing competitions, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, currently lies in jeopardy for 2019 due to a missed permit deadline.

The debacle began over what the WSL thought would be minor administration changes.

Per Surfer, what appeared to be a simple event date change for the WSL–exchanging the Billabong Pipe Masters event in December with the Volcom Pipe Pro event in Januar–was denied by the city of Honolulu. By attempting to swap the two events, the WSL failed to submit necessary changes by the Nov. 9 deadline. In their eyes, it was a minor technicality.

The city of Honolulu says the request from the WSL was more than minor, and they rejected the request. Adding to the mounting tension the WSL’s CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt, flew to Hawaii directly to fight for their case with Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu’s Mayor

Before meeting with the Mayor she wrote to him stating, “It is ironic that we should be in this situation at a time when the Hawaii Tourism Authority is so aggressively canvassing to attract high profile professional sporting events to the state, and when surfing is on the eve of its Olympic debut.”

For Caldwell and the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, the change boiled down to a matter of consideration and fairness. According to Caldwell many other applicants have applied for an event permit at the same time on Oahu’s North Shore. After rejecting the request, Caldwell emphasized that he alone can’t grant exceptions of this nature, and that the decision was made by the review of a panel.

“Please know the city fully appreciates the economic spending the WSL brings to the islands, but as I've stated, this is an issue about fairness, not about money,” wrote Caldwell in a letter sent to Goldschmidt on Monday. “You have stated that the changes are minor, and if this is truly the case, we are perplexed that you would jeopardize your relationship to Hawaii on a minor change. I sincerely hope the WSL will continue to hold events in Hawaii, the birthplace of the sport of surfing."

The WSL had hoped to begin the 2019 season with the beloved Billabong Pipe Masters contest, which currently serves as the final contest on the WSL’s Championship Tour. Now, Pipe Master’s future is uncertain. Goldschmidt expressed concern in a statement to the Hawaii Star-Advertiser.

"If we can't get these minor administrative changes made, we won't be able to come back in 2019,” wrote Goldschmidt. “And if that happens the likelihood is that we won't be able to return for years." 

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