At Least Two CT Surfers Rumoured To Boycott Rio Pro

WSL remain silent on whether they would be fined.

Filipe Toledo may be surfing in Brazil, but there may be a few on tour who wont. Photo: WSL/Cestari

The Rio Pro is less than a week away and there’s a different kind of storm brewing on the horizon. Tracks can reveal rumours are circling that at least two surfers are looking to boycott the event.

Australians Joel Parkinson and Kai Otton have declined to confirm whether they will compete in Rio, however sources have said they will not be heading to Brazil.

Recently retired tour veteran, Taj Burrow told Tracks that some CT surfers had already indicated to him that they planned to pull out due to concerns surrounding water quality at the event site.

“It’s no secret the water is filthy,” said Burrow. Last year it was gross, raw sewerage. I think that’s the reason a few people are pulling out.”

After the 2015 Rio Pro, Parkinson revealed he suffered the effects of a mystery illness for weeks after the event. Many other surfers experienced similar symptoms to Parkinson, including Surfer’s Representative, Ace Buchan. Buchan believes the water quality and poor surf is placing the Rio event in jeopardy of remaining on the world tour.


Water quality and health concerns are the main concern.

“I think everyone knows if we have another year in Rio where the waves are average and everyone gets sick the event probably won’t go ahead there,” Ace told Stab in April.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out,” he says. “We don’t get great waves there so if we’re competing in average waves and everyone is getting sick, I think we’ll be looking at other venues.”

However if competitors do decide to pull the pin on Rio they may face disciplinary action from the WSL. According to the WSL rulebook all championship tour surfers must attend all events they qualify for. Failure to do so will move the WSL to take action.

Article 17 in the WSL Rule Book titled, “Non-Attendance in Events”, section 17.01 states:

CT Surfers must attend all CT Events which they qualify for. Failure to do so will result in a disciplinary action described in Article 177, except as described in this Article 17.”

Section 17.05 goes further to add:

“If a seeded Surfer fails to advise the Tour Manager they are not attending the first round heat and does not compete in their first round heat, then a Replacement will take their spot after the first heat is completed and the Replacement will be reseeded for their second round heat onwards. Re-seeding for heats will only occur from round three onwards. If the Surfer fails to arrive on time for their second round heat, they will be subject to discipline as if they did not show (but did not provide warning in accordance with Article 186).”

However, Burrow doesn’t believe surfers should be penalised should they decide to boycott the event because of concerns around their health due to the water quality in the area.

“I’d be surprised. You need to consider your health over a surfing event. I don’t think WSL would take disciplinary action on the surfers if there was actually a serious health hazard.”

Each year the Rio Pro is condemned for its routine poor surf. Many commentators have argued that a move only an hour and a half from Rio would be a much better location. Saquarema is arguably one of the best spots in Rio. It has previously been a QS 10,000 however it appears to have been dropped from the 2016 schedule.

Tracks contacted WSL’s VP of Communications for comment, however despite several attempts a response has not been forthcoming.

Join the conversation and comment below.