World Surf League forms new competition to mark event hosting landmark

The World Surf League (WSL) has formed a new team event to mark its first major competition at a facility utilising artificial wave technology.

The Founders’ Cup of Surfing, a region-versus-region teams event featuring a cross-section of the world’s best surfers, will be held at Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California from May 5-6.

Five teams – USA, Brazil, Australia, Europe and World – made up of men's and women's surfers from the elite WSL Championship Tour, will compete over the two-day event at the man-made wave venue. The WSL said the competition will be hosted against a festival backdrop honouring the culture of surfing.

“This technology has captured the imagination of the global surfing community and created a number of new opportunities for the WSL,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL chief executive, said. “The Founders’ Cup of Surfing will be the organisation's first public event at the facility and we're very excited to showcase the wave and the world's best surfers through this unique team format in May.”

The Surf Ranch facility, which was revealed online to the public in December 2015, boasts the best man-made wave in history – a 700-yard, high-performance, bi-directional wave featuring barrel and manoeuvre sections. 

Primarily existing as a testing facility, the Lemoore site has spent the past two years refining the technology under the guidance of 11-time WSL champion Kelly Slater, along with feedback from visiting WSL surfers. A private test event last September proved successful, paving the way for the Founders’ Cup of Surfing to be the first time the public will be allowed onto the grounds.

The Founders’ Cup of Surfing will see the men and women competing alongside one another in the team format, a first for WSL events. The teams will be made up of three men and two women from each region, and the five-person teams will compete against one another throughout the course of the two-day event.

Slater (pictured) himself will lead the US men’s and women’s team at the Founders’ Cup. “Surf Ranch and the wave system are obviously special to me and it's really exciting to see it come online for the public in 2018, first with the Founders' Cup and then with Surf Ranch Open,” he said. 

“As someone who has competed in probably every competition format there is, the Founders' Cup region-versus-region, co-ed format is really intriguing to me. I think May is going to be a great showcase for the world's best surfers at the facility.”

While the Founders’ Cup of Surfing will be the first public event held at the facility, it will be followed by the Surf Cup Open, a men’s and women’s Championship Tour event, in September. The WSL initially flagged up its intention to head to the Surf Ranch when unveiling the calendar for its 2018 season in November.

The WSL is seeking to expand surfing engagement on a global basis in the lead-up to the sport’s Olympic debut at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.