A new cut rule brought in to add more drama to the World Surf League has created serious tensions as big names fall victim.
Olympic bronze medallist Owen Wright wasn’t going to rush to any long-term decision after becoming the latest big name to be claimed by the controversial new World Surf League mid-season cut rule that continues to cause distress among competitors.
Fellow Australian Morgan Cibilic, who finished fifth in the world last year, will join Wright in having to fight their way back to the main Championship Tour through the challenger series after both lost their third round heats at the Margaret River Pro.
The new mid-season cut rule had already sent Australian star Sally Fitzgibbons to this weekend’s Challenger Series event on the Gold Coast where Cibilic, 21, is also now headed and Wright will go there too despite being “devastated” by his loss.
Fitzgibbon, an Olympian in Tokyo and multiple tour winner, was dumped from the tour after 14 years under the new cut rule that will reduce the men’s series to 22 competitors and the women’s to just 10 after the Margaret River event.
Wright, 32, who has been on the tour for 12 years, said he wouldn’t rush to make any serious decisions about his future
“For me, I don’t want to be having any long-term thoughts just yet. I’ll try and be kind to myself over the next few days,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of life outside the tour, wife, kids, so whatever I do it will be a family decision. We’ll go through the motions of what’s next.
“I’m entered (in the Gold Coast). I’m not going to make any decisions right now. Psychologically, you have to come back from thins like this.
“I don’t really know how I feel about the whole situation … I just took a heat loss, not a drop off tour loss.”
Australian Jackson Baker also faces a nervous wait to find out if he will make the cut after being eliminated by American Kolohe Andino on Tuesday.
Andino is safe in the top 22, as are Australians Ethan Ewing, Jack Robinson and Callum Robson, but the veteran is not a huge fan of the cut.
“It’s just kind of hard the whole cut thing. No one really likes it,” Andino told the WSL broadcast.
“We’re all friends on tour and we all love each other, so you don’t want to knock the guy off tour.
“It just seems like it’s a TV show a little bit, like drama all the time.
“Watching the women‘s the other day it was just heartbreaking with the girls that were losing. They were crying all day.”
Fitzgibbons, 31, was matter of fact after her loss at Margaret River and shared a positive message on social media.
“The unconditional love that comes with putting on my jersey #89. Everything about this sport, the surf community and my dream keeps me coming back for more,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I felt every one of those cheers and hugs from you yesterday and hope I can reciprocate when we cross paths in your big moment.”