What’s next, APB Tour?

No Australian leg, but there’s hope for the rest of 2014’s World Tour.
Above: No Box again in 2014, or any Oz events for that matter. Mitch Rawlins, 2012. Photo: IBA/Sacha Specker

With the weeks and months following February’s Pipe Challenge steadily growing, plus the launch of the new ABA Aussie Tour last month, the fact the newly-formed APB is still plowing ahead with the World Tour seems to have gone under the radar with much of the bodyboarding populous. But with the APB last week releasing its “tentative schedule”, the 2014 World Tour is back in the spotlight – and there’s certainly some eyebrow-raising nuggets of information to glean from the calendar.

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The most glaring is the lack of an Australian event. This follows last year’s successful (the waves and surfing at least) South Coast Crusade in New South Wales. Another thing to note is how long we’ll have to wait for the second event of the men’s world tour – the Itacoatiara contest is slated for late July, some five months after the Pipe event was completed. This is somewhat understandable, however, since the APB has previously said after the IBA announced it was having a year of rebuilding (read here if you’re confused) that starting a whole new world tour from scratch wouldn’t happen overnight. Clearly the stacked second half of the year is aimed at giving the APB plenty of time to get their affairs in order, secure sponsorship, etc. A third thing to note is that the Dropknee World Tour will only consist of two more events (after Pipe), which, going on previous years, will likely be held in small waves.

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Last year’s South Coast Crusade was a wild success – depending on who you ask. Jake Stone, the first 720 in competition. Photo: Grant Trouville.

We contacted APB General Manager Alex Leon yesterday to find out more about why there’s no Australian event, plus get an update on sponsorship, webcasts and the schedule in general and here’s what he had to say:

RT: Why hasn’t an Australian event/leg of the tour been secured?
AL: We havn’t been able to secure an event in Australia for several reasons. The first is the South Coast Crusade was a major success for bodyboarding last year, but the local surfing community from the Ulladulla region was quite disappointed in the event (even though we kept the wave location names secretive) and have rallied together to prevent any type of event happening in the region again. The second reason is the previous tour entity (IBA pty ltd) owe a debt to Surfing WA, which has prevented us from holding an event at The Box. The third reason is sponsorship – all the international events are at least 50 per cent supported by government funding and the budget gap is covered by industry sponsorship and/or athlete entry fees. The South Coast Crusade’s budget was from Destination NSW In order to promote the specific region of the South Coast of NSW. Also to add, the waiting period for Shark Island is too long for a World Tour event hence the specialty event tag.

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Stop number two on the APB World Tour – the Itacoatiara Pro. Coming at you from July 23 (tentatively). Photo: IBA/Sacha Specker

Are all events likely to have webcasts?
The prime events (5 stars) are likely to have a webcast. We have confirmation that Itacoatiara, Arica, Sintra and Puerto Rico will be webcasting this year. The webcast is an additional feature to an event therefore under the new APB rating structure if an event chooses not hold a webcast then the rating of the event will decrease from a 6 star to a 5 star. We’re trying to keep event promoters showcasing the events to the world to drive popularity up as we’ve done in the past.

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Jacob Romero and THAT invert. Arica is your third stop of the APB World Tour – from August 8. Photo: Sacha Specker.

The calendar is listed as tentative – what is the likelihood of all of them going ahead? Which ones would you say are “locked in”?

I can say that the events most likely to happen are Itacoatiara, Arica, Antofagasta, Sintra, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela (pending country stability). The events we’re closely focusing on are Mexico and Fronton, which we hope to have more news on in the coming weeks, as these events are paramount for our tour.

APB image - FrontonFronton is in the crosshairs of the APB this year, planned for November 24. Fingers crossed. Jase Finlay, day of days, 2012. Photo: Andy Lawrence

How successful has the APB been in securing sponsorship for the events?
The APB hasn’t approached any major players as yet for a number of reasons. 1. The APB media platforms are low in numbers and therefore will require a good couple of years to increase as we saw with the IBA platforms, which is a major sector in securing financial sponsorship. Another reason is the APB is surviving from a group of important people by donating time to get the association on the right track for a long term projection (not a short term fix). This has delayed our quick turnaround from IBA. We’ve almost finished the new website, which was created by Andrew Bleakley by donation. He has been a great help towards the APB’s media platforms. Craig Hadden, Chico Garritano, Terry McKenna and Mike Stewart and the rest of the APB Board have all been helping me on this project, as have the event promoters globally with their support for the APB, not to mention the athletes and the supporters to date. 

I’d like to say one last thing, especially to the Australian supporters – if there are any possible event promoters who think they have the potential to produce a world tour event at a decent wave location, then please approach us. We need more event promoters not just in Australia but worldwide. This is key to securing a great future for bodyboarding.

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Another wave the APB has listed as a priority – Playa Zicatela, Mexico. How good would it be to see this stuff again?! The Zicatela Pro is planned for August 26. Ryan Hardy 2012. Photo: IBA/Collins.