- WSL / Kelly Cestari

2020 has been unlike any year we've ever experienced. As the WSL kicks off the Championship Tour in Hawaii this December, we are moving forward with the utmost safety and care, as well as respect, consideration and support for those who call Hawaii home, the competitors and all those who continue to be affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

OAHU, UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 19: Contestable conditions for finals day of the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters at Pipeline on December 19, 2019 in Oahu, United States. (Photo by Kelly Cestari/WSL via Getty Images) COVID safety protocols will be strictly enforced, meaning there will be no onsite sepctators, vendors, activities in nearby beach parks, or VIP hospitality services that will draw a crowd. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

This year, the women will begin with the Maui Pro presented by ROXY at the idyllic right-hand pointbreak at Honolua Bay on December 4. The men will begin their season at the Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask, which starts on December 8th and marks the 50th edition of the Pipe Masters, making it one of the longest running and most iconic competitions in the history of surfing.

Thanks to our steadfast and enduring relationships with the communities, and state of Hawaii, we are able to bring back the magic of professional surfing. Unfortunately, as much as we would all love to come together on the beach and cheer for our favorite surfers, for everyone's health and safety at this time, that's not possible. The competitions on Oahu and Maui will be operating as non-spectator film productions.

Italo Ferreira Pipeline 2019 Reigning World Champion Italo Ferreira flying through the barrel during the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

Both competitions will be live-streamed and available to fans around the world, but there will be no on-site spectators, vendors, activities in nearby beach parks, VIP hospitality services or other things that may draw a crowd. All COVID safety protocols will be strictly enforced by our community ambassadors, security personnel, and local police officers.

As film productions, the Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask are part of Hawaii's economic recovery through the restart of the local film production industry. As it has done for decades, the WSL is prioritizing local hiring and vendors to ensure our investment most directly benefits Hawaii's people and economy. We're grateful to Hawaii, the birthplace of surfing, and to the local island communities that continue to make it all possible.

MAUI, UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 1: Three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore of Hawaii wearing the yellow Jeep Leader jersey advances directly to Round 3 of the 2019 Lululemon Maui Pro after winning Heat 3 of Round 1 at Honolulu Bay on December 1, 2019 in Maui, United States. (Photo by Kelly Cestari/WSL via Getty Images) 4X World Champion Carissa Moore digs in the rail for a massive frontside hack at the 2019 lululemon Maui Pro. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

As part of the myriad of health and safety precautions being taken, the WSL will conduct multiple rounds of COVID testing of all athletes and production staff before, during, and after filming, and everyone traveling to Hawaii will be in full compliance with Hawaii's Safe Travels Program. A robust COVID Safety Plan has also been put in place, which includes daily temperature checks, testing, frequent cleaning and disinfecting, contact tracing measures, accredited private property filming sites, minimal production staff (hiring local wherever possible), mask wearing, and physical distancing.

As the Championship Tour gets underway, public health and safety is the top priority for the WSL. And while crowning winners at Pipe and Honolua Bay may look a little different this year, the action is sure to be as intense and exciting as ever. The race for the 2021 WSL World Title begins now.

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