The World Surf League has canceled the 2020 season, leaving businesses on the North Shore concerned

The World Surf League has canceled the 2020 season, leaving businesses on the North Shore concerned
Florence pulls into massive barrel on Wednesday at Billabong Pipe Masters. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The coronavirus pandemic has hit the sports world like a tidal wave, canceling seasons left and right — today it claimed it’s latest victim — the World Surf League announced today that they are canceling the 2020 championship tour.

“Shocked but not surprised, with everything going on.” Surf ‘N Sea surf shop manager Jeff Rozsa told Hawaii News Now. “It’s definitely going to hinder our business, we’re struggling keeping the doors open right now, as everybody can attest to I feel like, and that brings a lot of business to the north shore.”

With the WSL on hiatus for the 2020 qualifying season, this will be a significant blow to the local businesses along the North Shore — like Rozsa and Surf ‘N Sea — who are already trying to stay afloat in this difficult year. 

“Well we’ve had to shut our doors for a few months when the whole pandemic started and business and sales have really slowed down for us since we reopened a few months ago,” Rozsa said. “And I think that’s a common theme for everybody across the island. Luckily, we’re not entirely tourist dependent, so we are able to keep our doors open.”

Four events that were planned for the North Shore are now canceled, and the huge flocks of surfing fans would have been a huge help to the locals trying to save their businesses. 

Rozsa has been at Surf ‘N Sea in Haleiwa for 8 years, and during his tenure at the shop, he says the crowds are huge when the WSL is in town, and Without the foot traffic this year, Rozsa says they are going to change how they hire going forward.

“Like i said it brings a lot of money to the north shore and our shop and our business and it helps us keep people employed,” Rozsa said. “You know in the long run, we’re going to have to start looking at probably laying people off, not bringing back as many people, hiring on as much seasonal work as we normally would, and so it’s going to affect a lot of the long time residents up here as well.”

Along with all of the visitors the WSL brings to the local businesses, they also pride themselves in employing as many local workers and vendors as they can for their events. 

According to WSL, in 2019 about 86% of the vendors and event staff were local businesses and residents, across their six events on Oahu. 

That is a huge surge of business and work that the north shore and Oahu, won’t be seeing until the end of the year — hopefully.

Along with the cancellation  today, the WSL also announced plans for the 2021 tour with a revamped format for the finals. 

The 2021 tour will kick off with the Shiseido Maui Pro for women, on November 28th. Then for the men, it kicks off on December 8th with the Billabong Pipe Masters on Oahu.

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