Home Australia Gold Coast’s iconic break Snapper Rocks to rejoin World Surf League championship tour

Gold Coast’s iconic break Snapper Rocks to rejoin World Surf League championship tour

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A temporary judging tower and crowd on the beach for a surfing contest.

After five years in the surfing wilderness, famed Queensland break Snapper Rocks is back on the World Surf League (WSL) championship tour.

The event will return to Coolangatta from 2025 after the WSL signed a four-year deal with the City of Gold Coast and Tourism and Events Queensland.

Snapper Rocks was the elite surf tour’s season opener for two decades until the event was eliminated in a major calendar shakeup during the COVID pandemic.

The Snapper Rocks pro was canceled in 2021.(Supplied: WSL / Kelly Cestari)

The WSL took a break from competition during the first year of the pandemic and when it returned in 2021, the Gold Coast lost its hosting rights due to a dispute between the Queensland government and the WSL over COVID restrictions.

The Queensland leg of the tour was moved to New South Wales.

For the past three years, Snapper Rocks has hosted the inaugural event of the WSL’s second-tier competition, the Challenger Series, as part of a revamped format for professional surfing.

The championship contest was an important part of the social fabric and surf culture of Coolangatta, a region that has produced more world champions than anywhere else in the world.

A woman is carried by a group of people along a beach. She's smiling.

Steph Gilmore won the event at her home in Snapper Rocks a record six times.(AAP Image: Kirstin Scholtz)

Widespread impact

Three-time world champion and two-time Snapper Rocks winner Mick Fanning said losing the event had been a heartbreaking blow to the community.

“Not having him here was very sad, not only for us surfers who love people [to] surf our waves, but also for children growing up to see what the benchmark is and what is really possible in their rest at home,” he said.

Fanning welcomed his return.

“It’s an event that’s obviously close to my heart,” he said.

“There’s so much history that’s happened before I was even on tour.

“It’s not just for Gold Coast kids, it’s everywhere (the far north of New South Wales, the Sunny Coast) where people would travel from all over.”

A surfer makes a turn on a wave.

Mick Fanning says it didn’t feel right to Snapper Rocks not being on the tour.(AAP Image: Kelly Cestari)

Main attraction

Tourism and Events Queensland predicted the event’s return to the Gold Coast would attract 14,000 fans and inject $2.9 million into the local economy.

A large crowd on the beach to watch a professional surfing contest.

The 10-day competition attracts surf fans from around the world to the Gold Coast.(Supplied: WSL / Kelly Cestari)

The WSL is yet to reveal how Snapper Rocks will fit into the 2025 schedule and whether its addition will mean another location is on the cut list.

The 2024 Australian leg includes stops at Bells Beach in March and Margaret River in April.

Gold Coast is likely to become the last event before the mid-season cut, or the first event after the cut.

Mick Fanning makes his way through the crowd of fans on the beach

Mick Fanning was a crowd favorite on his break at home.(Supplied: WSL / Kelly Cestari)

Fanning said the WSL had made the right decision.

“You have to make sure the best waves and the best spots are on the world circuit because that’s where you want to see the best surfing,” he said.

“If that’s the last event of the cut, then it’s amazing.

“It’s much more predictable than Margaret River.

“You can let your surf do the talking on Snapper, it’s always pretty consistent and there aren’t any big changes throughout the day.”

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