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Photo: Mike Ito - @mikeitophoto

Devon Howard resigns as WSL Longboard Tour Director

7 May 22

We got a short and sweet email from Devon overnight confirming the news that he’d, “Resigned from the WSL role. Would have been nice to see it go longer!”

To be blunt, it was never going to be an easy gig. But Devon was the right person for the job.

An exceptional surfer and one-time top-ranked tour competitor, he starred in several influential longboard movies of the 2000s, and his long career included stints as a surf journalist, US Longboard magazine editor, and a marketing VP for major brands.

Devon was dedicated and uniquely qualified, and there was a real buzz around this when he took on the WSL role in 2019.

His first event was the first stop of the all-new 4-event WSL Longboard Series at the Noosa Festival in March 2019. We caught up with Devon for a four-page interview in this magazine at the time and he was upbeat and positive, but also realistic about the realities of sponsorship, the money it takes to run events, judging, infrastructure, prize purses, and the hurdles involved for competitors to get to all the stops. 

2019 was a great start though, Devon put everything into it, all four events were successful, and the new series was looking solid - here was a proper tour to build on.

Then came Covid with two years of travel restrictions stalling momentum. 2021 was a comeback of sorts with two great WSL longboard events in California, and there are a couple of events slotted for this year – but there’s been the added saga with Joel Tudor and his suspension, and changes in personnel at the top of the WSL . . . and now Devon’s stepped down, and geez . . . where to from here? 

We’ll try to find out more – but in the meantime here’s Devon’s diplomatic answer to this question posed by Log Rap:

“We asked Devon directly why after a few seasons of building momentum and trust with the surfers and the fans he is now parting ways with the League?”

“It’s in a really great place right now,” Devon explained over the phone this morning. “The hardest part was helping the WSL implement it’s traditional longboard criteria. People think I wrote it, but it had already existed a few years before I took on the role. However, it wasn’t being implemented and it was creating confusion with both the surfers and the judges. I was called in to fix that.”

“We spent a lot of time training judges, which isn’t an easy thing to do,” he added. “There are not a lot of people who are qualified to judge traditional longboard surfing at the level we expect them to. There are a lot of nuances that go right over the head of the world’s most experienced shortboard judges, so it takes time to get it right. I wrote an in-depth document that explains it all in great detail. That document, if followed closely, and if WSL continues to reference it, will be the north star of their tour for years to come. So, to that end, I think my time there was very worthwhile and helped bridge things from where it was to where it is now. I look forward to seeing where the WSL takes it from here and how the surfers evolve it over time.”

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