Kirra Seale Discusses The Future of The WSL Longboard Tour
If you've been following along with the WSL Longboard Tour this year you know it's been eventful to say the least. To give an extremely brief synopsis to refresh your memory;
- In July, the WSL appoints Kirra Seale as Senior Tour Manager with promise of an expanded tour in 2023
Now that this wild ride that was the 2022 WSL Longboard tour is coming to an end we figured what better time to sit down and Log Chat with the new Senior Tour Manager Kirra Seale to discuss her new role and plans for the future of WSL Longboarding.
How have the first few months been working with WSL?
It’s been great! It was definitely a tough decision to stop competing because I do love competition so much, but I thought it would be a really cool opportunity to try to elevate our tour to what I would want to see as a competitor.
How did the job come about? Did they reach out to you or did you reach out to them?
I was in Manly competing at the first stop this year and we had an athletes meeting where I was able to talk about how I felt regarding the current state of the tour. After the meeting, they (WSL) approached me asking if I’d be interested in taking the position of Senior Manager of the Longboard Tour. At first I didn’t think much of it because I was more focused on competing and trying to win a world title, but after I got home and thought about it more the opportunity really resonated with me. It may sound weird but I have never felt fulfilled after winning a surf event. I saw this opportunity as a way I could find more fulfillment by giving back to the surfers and trying to work towards making the whole tour better for generations to come.
At the beginning of this year there was no tour planned and it felt like there was some speculation amongst leadership at WSL regarding the legitimacy of the Longboard Tour. Can you give us some insight on what the current vibe is around the office regarding the Longboard Tour?
The morale behind the longboard tour in the office is super high, which is great to see. Right now we have 4 events planned for the tour next year as well as the numerous regional qualifiers we are working on. I can definitely say that things are scaling up right now and I can’t wait to share our plans for next year with everyone after Malibu.
This weekend is the first WSL qualifying event for the Longboard Tour in quite some time, can you tell us how that event came about and how that event will effect who’s on the tour next year?
My whole goal coming into this was to get more new faces on tour. Our plan is to run at least one qualifying event for each region where surfers can compete and earn points to get on tour. We are pushing back the start of the 2023 tour to July so we can run the regional events before then. The 2023 tour will then be made up of the top 8 men and top 8 women from the 2022 tour and the points leaders of each regional qualifying series.
Oh I see, so it sounds like there will be multiple events and opportunities for people to qualify, not just 1 event per region?
The WSL is working to increase qualifying opportunities for the Longboard Tour. So this Pismo competition will be the first regional qualifier for North America and Hawaii.
How did you guys end up picking Pismo beach as the location for this first qualifier?
Surfing For Hope is a great entity that does surf events raising money for cancer research. They’ve done shortboard events for years and actually a few longboard events that I competed in each year. When the team was looking for locations to run regional qualifiers we figured they would be a great partner because they have the infrastructure already in place for us to run this event in close proximity to Malibu. We are really excited to get to work with them for this first event.
Is that something we can expect for the rest of these regional events, teaming up with existing contest in the various regions?
The process varies for each event. For this example, our goal is to run the qualifying events before the season starts mid next year. Teaming up with this event was a perfect fit and was a great option for the surfers ahead of Malibu.
Are competitors who are already on the tour allowed to compete at these qualifying events?
Yes, because we still have the Malibu event coming up, the final rankings for 2022 haven’t been determined. This is why some competitors who are on tour already are doing the Pismo event. They want to backup their points in case they fall out of the Top 8 in Malibu. If someone wins Pismo and then finishes Top 8 after Malibu then it will not change their standings and that regional spot will still be open for the competitor next on the qualifying points list.
What is the current status of Joel Tudors suspension? The last news we heard he was suspended indefinitely but has there been any discussion of what the WSL plans to do?
Joel Tudor is suspended through the end of the 2022 Longboard season.
What advice would you give to a young longboarder looking to get invloved with the WSL tour but might not know how?
My advice would be to watch lots of heats, pay attention to what scores well in our events, and understand how priority works. You could be the best surfer in the world, but if you don’t know how to compete, it’s really hard to make heats. Keep an eye out for our for our qualifying events when they come to your region and most importantly just have fun.