A chat with Sophie Goldschmidt: WSL CEO

In case you missed it, three months ago surfing’s governing body, the WSL, announced their new CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt. This week the media were given a rare opportunity to ask her some questions about her role and how she sees the future of surfing.

Sophie Goldschmidt: WSL CEO


What was primarily interesting was not necessarily what was said, but how Ms Goldschmidt said it. Without being overt, the way she speaks changes the narrative. She began the press conference by talking about the upcoming Hawaiian leg of the tour and kicked off with the title race… which one you may ask, given that both men’s and women’s title will be decided in Hawaii this year? The women’s.

I wanted to spend a little time speaking about the title races that are upon us… it’s really coming down to three. Stephanie and Carissa have a very outside chance but it’s really between Sally Fitzgibbons, Tyler Wright and Courtney, to see who wil be crowned world champion. Having the championship come down to the final event and, fingers crossed, to the final heat, will be incredibly exciting for the sport and we can’t wait to see what unfolds.

Moving on to discussing the men’s tile challenge, she mentions whether Medina and Florence, who already have single titles to their names, can join the likes of Richards, Oberg, Carrol, Zamba, Curren, Slater, Beachley, Gilmore and Fanning and win a second title. I see what you did there Sophie, and I like it.

When asked about surfing’s strongest points, it was the surfers themselves who were singled out.

These athletes are fantastic. They’re at the top of their game, putting themselvers literally on the line. Their bravery and athletic talent, I think, should be heralded around the world and that’s one of our goals. To try and help make them become even more household names. I think they should be celebrated much more broadly. I think some of the locations we go to are just spectacular and that’s an opportunity for us too. To be honest, the opportunities are endless and I see very few limitations. I think it’s trying to see how, collectively, we can find the balance between absoloutley holding onto such important traditions and vales of the sport while also pushing the boundaries in the right way.

And as to the future? There was this nugget:

The Big Wave Tour, KS Wave Pool Co and the 2020 Olympics are massive opportunities and allow us to become relevant in markets where’s maybe we aren’t to date, but also the other opportunities I’ve mentioned… potentially also through branching out into the lifestyle areas.

I’ve been in the role for three months now and, while I’ve been interested in surfing for many years, being on the inside is a facinating challenge. I think all sports can learn from each other but I also think that surfing can do things other sports can’t. I think the appeal of it in so many different ways to fans around the world really is unique and I feel very excited about the future of the sport.

I’m not sure what she means by lifestyle areas but I’m intrigued.

With the inclusion of a South African leg on the 2018 women’s world tour, bringing the total number of stops to 10 for the first time in decades, the future looks bright for professional women’s surfing. And with the Sophie Goldschmidt at the helm, I’m excited too.