2016 Championship Tour Schedule Released

The World Surf League (WSL) has released its 2016 schedule of events for the men's and women's Championship Tours (CT), Qualifying Series (QS), Pro Junior tours and Longboard tours.

Staying true to its core DNA of putting the world's best surfers on the world's best waves, the 2016 schedule is designed to foster world-class performances from athletes at events taking place around the globe, from Australia to the South Pacific to Europe and beyond.

The WSL is introducing a new JQS Series of events in Australasia, providing a stronger platform for young men and women surfers to qualify for the World Junior Championship, where, if they perform, they will gain valuable seeding benefits to kick-start their path through the QS to the CT.

"Surfing takes place on the most dynamic and unpredictable playing field in all of sports," said Kieren Perrow, Commissioner of the WSL. "This year, we've witnessed another season of barrier-breaking performances in all kinds of surf and weather conditions. We look forward to an incredible Tour finale for both our men's and women's CT in Hawaii and onward to 2016."

Filipe Toledo (BRA) sky high in the Quiksilver Pro Final. The 2016 Championship Tour kicks off at Australia's Gold Coast. - WSL

2016 Samsung Galaxy Men's Championship Tour
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast - March 10-21, 2016
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach - March 24-April 5, 2016
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro - April 8-19, 2016
Rio Pro - May 10-21, 2016
Fiji Pro - June 5-17, 2016
J-Bay Open - July 6-17, 2016
Billabong Pro Teahupo'o - August 19-30, 2016
Hurley Pro at Trestles - September 7-18, 2016
Quiksilver Pro France - October 4-15, 2016
Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal - October 18-29, 2016
Billabong Pipe Masters - December 8-20, 2016

Earlier this year, three-time WSL Champion and current World Title contender Mick Fanning (AUS) experienced a shark encounter in the Final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa. Since the incident, speculation regarding the event's future on the CT has been a consistent topic in the media. The WSL will return to J-Bay in 2016.

Addressing this issue, Commissioner Perrow said, "Athlete safety is a top priority for the league. We have been in constant discussions with our athletes, event organizers and administrators regarding the future of this event. The WSL has made significant investments in the areas of surveillance and response for all current and future Tour spots, and we are currently working with a number of firms specializing in mitigation technology that focus on both athlete safety and the safety of the marine environment."

Perrow continued: "The strides we're making in the areas of surveillance and response are significant, but there presently exists no technology that has been proven to be 100 percent effective. Our athletes are aware of this, as they have always been."

The 2015 men's CT season will finish with the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons in the coming weeks with a historic number of surfers (six) in the running for the world surfing crown -- Fanning leads a pack including Filipe Toledo (BRA), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Owen Wright (AUS) and Julian Wilson (AUS).

The past two seasons have seen major enhancements to the quality and quantity of events for the world's best female surfers, with the addition of Fiji, Trestles, as well as the move to Hossegor, France and Maui.

"The quality venues have produced some of the most impressive surfing of the season," said Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL Women's Commissioner. "And the battle between Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlogue for the 2015 Title will be one for the record books."

Tatiana Weston-Webb during her Round 4 heat. The Top 17 continue to impress at more recent additions to the Tour such as Lower Trestles. The 2016 schedule will see them return for the third-consecutive year. - WSL / Sean Rowland

2016 Samsung Galaxy Women's Championship Tour
Roxy Pro Gold Coast - March 10-21, 2016
Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach - March 24-April 5, 2016
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro - April 8-19, 2016
Rio Women's Pro - May 10-21, 2016
Fiji Women's Pro - May 29-June 3, 2016
Vans US Open of Surfing - July 25 - 31, 2016
Swatch Women's Pro at Lower Trestles - September 7-18, 2016
Cascais Women's Pro - September 24-Oct 2, 2016
Roxy Pro France - October 4-15, 2016
Maui Women's Pro - November 22-December 6, 2016

The 2015 WSL Women's Championship Tour is culminating next week at Honolua Bay with the Target Maui Pro. Watch all the action LIVE on the WSL website and the WSL app starting November 21.