In a letter to Big Wave World Tour competitors on Tuesday night, founder, tour director and overall great guy Gary Linden announced the merger between the ASP and the BWWT.
“All of us at the BWWT are eager to start working with the new team at the ASP to legitimize the world’s most extreme sport of which you have helped create. The BWWT will continue to run the 2013/2014 Season with the ASP officially taking over the following season.”
With the BWWT taking a bootstrap approach for the past few years, struggling to find consistent sponsorships, prize money and competitors, this is a huge win, and a testament to Gary Linden’s vision of lifting big-wave surfing into the professional realm. In an email to SURFING, Gary wrote:
“The BWWT goal was always to grow the culture of big wave surfing by creating a sport and taking it to the highest level possible. This merger is a culmination of my life’s endeavor and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. The chance for the next generation of big wave riders to chose this as a career path will enable the performance level to soar, achieving what may now seem unattainable.”
And it makes sense for the ASP and its new management, who are looking for ways to attract mainstream sponsorship. After all, the concept of “big wave, small person” is easier to sell than “speed, power and flow” at 3-foot Rio. Dave Prodan, VP of Communications of the ASP, told SURFING, “As with the ASP World Championship Tour, our focus for the Big Wave World Tour moving forward will be to celebrate the sport, the athletes, the waves and the action. We’ll be producing and executing broadcasts/webcasts for all events, providing consistent commentary and viewing portals. The fans will be our focus and getting them the best content possible.” While this is still a year or so away from being rolled out, the five main events of this season will each see a $50,000 prize purse, a huge step forward from the days when current big wave world champ Greg Long was putting the money up out of his own pocket.
With this good news, we look to the first event of the 2013/2014 season at Punta de Lobos Chile. There’s plenty of swell on tap. —Taylor Paul