The World Surf League has announced world titles will be decided by a new grand final surf-off starting next year. However, any further events this year are in doubt due to the coronavirus outbreak.

WSL CEO Erik Logan says the world title surf-offs will take place on the final day of the Championship Tour seasons at Pipeline and Honolua Bay, respectively.

Two-time world champion Tyler Wright backed the new format, saying it will raise the intensity of the showdown for the crown.

“The difference is that you get to win in the water, which is huge,” the Australian told the WSL. “It comes down to nobody else, and that kind of intensity, that kind of competitive pressure, raises the bar. It’s pretty exciting.”

The WSL also said the new Challenger Series, made up of eight second-tier Qualifying Series events for men and four for women, will run at a different time of year from the top-flight CT.

That will allow surfers who fail to re-qualify for the CT a chance to compete in the top-flight the very next season rather than waiting a full year.

“With the Challenger Series at a different time of the year you can highlight the up-comers,” Wright added

“You can highlight who is in the Challenger Series, you can highlight what’s new, who is coming up that is fresh, who is re-qualifying, and the people that drop off the CT will have an opportunity to go on and completely focus on the Challenger Series”.

Logan said the remainder of the 2020 season was still clouded by uncertainty with the Rio Pro in Brazil, set for June, officially put on hold in the hope Covid-19 travel restrictions will ease in coming months.

The Championship Tour’s Corona Gold Coast Open set for 26 March to 5 April has already been cancelled, while top-flight events at Western Australia’s Margaret River, Victoria’s Bells Beach and Indonesia’s G-Land have all been postponed.

In the Qualifying Series, the Gold Coast Open at Burleigh Heads has been cancelled while 12 other events have been postponed.

“Where and when we will run this year is still very much an open question, but we will continue to work with governments, world health authorities and our local communities on returning to the line-up,” Logan said.

He added that the next call on the WSL’s postponed and upcoming events will be made on 1 June.

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