The Taranaki leg of the women's world surfing tour is at risk of becoming a thing of the past.
Following a buyout of the ASP, prizemoney at future Dream Tour events is set to more than double from US$120,000 to US$250,000 ($309,000), most likely putting it out of the reach of Taranaki organisers.
"It will be very difficult for us to raise that kind of money. We have to come up with the prizemoney ourselves," said TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival director Craig Williamson, who cobbled together 68 sponsors to get the 2013 event off the ground.
He stressed there were on-going discussions with the ASP and it was still likely a New Zealand surf festival would go ahead in 2014, but what form this would take was unclear.
"We may do the World Tour or we might do something similar. It's early days yet," said Mr Williamson who is also Surfing Taranaki chief executive.
He said other options would not be considered until the possibility of holding the ASP Women's World Tour event in Taranaki had been fully explored.
In February, Zo Sea Media bought the ASP and its co-founder Paul Speaker became the ASP's CEO. At a surf summit in Mexico this May, Mr Speaker said the ASP concept was broken and major changes needed to be made in 2014 to keep the organisation going.
Mr Williamson said this could mean an increase in the number of women's events and the introduction of new benefits for the surfers, such as a retirement savings plan and health insurance.
A new source of potential revenue for the organisation could be the introduction of pay-per-view charges for its hugely popular webcasts.
Former ASP CEO Brodie Carr said as much earlier this year in a column discussing Zo Sea Media's purchase of the ASP.
"The hot question is will it mean webcast pay-per-view? My prediction is you bet it will. There will be some freeview but the top-notch stuff is going to be pay-per-view."
Mr Williamson said the ASP was also searching for cornerstone sponsors to brand the entire men's and women's tour, and hoped some of the money to fund a Taranaki event might come from this.
President of Surfing Taranaki Mike Hareb, whose daughter Paige has competed on the world tour since 2009, was hoping to hear soon about the future of the tour.
"No doubt we'll hear in the next few weeks whether it's going to happen or not happen for New Plymouth."
The festival has also been credited with increasing the number of women taking up the sport.
Earlier this year New Plymouth surfing instructor and photographer Daisy Day told the Taranaki Daily News she put this down to the young women of the ASP tour and what they had done for a sport dominated by men.
"There was a time, not that long ago, that the girls would have a nice board and take it down to the beach and sit on the sand with it, like it was a fashion accessory.
"But now they are getting boards and getting out there and it's great," she said.
Susan Strongman is a Witt journalism student.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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