With over 50 athletes competing across 11 events in nine different countries, the 2019 World Surf League is going to be epic. Here's how you never miss a wave.
Who will win the 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour and where can you watch every surfing event live online? These are the two big questions faced by all of us who love the sun and the surf.
The Men's WSL championship sees four former world champions (John John Florence, Kelly Slater, Adriano De Souza and reigning title holder Gabriel Medina) in the hunt. They will face off against a field that included four rookies and perpetual bridesmaids in Julian Wilson, Jordy Smith, Owen Wright and Felipe Toledo, who have all show they are just one good win away from the trophy.
The Women's WSL championship is living legend Stephanie Gilmore's to lose as she guns for an incredible eighth title. However, she won't have a clear run, with former world champs Tyler Wright and Carissa Moore in the mix, as well as Lakey Peterson, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Sally Fitzgibbons and Johanne Defay coming off strong 2018 seasons.
You can browse the complete WSL schedule of events here.
When does the Tahiti Pro Teahupo'o surf contest start?
Famed for its mindblowing, death-defying barrels, Teachupo'o has quickly become one of the glamour events of the Men's WSL Championship Tour. The seventh event on the schedule, the window opens on August 22 (Australian time) and closes on September 1. There have been some memorable swells over the years and fingers are crossed for another epic session in 2019 starring the best surfers in the world. Last year's champion was Gabriel Medina, who used his win to springboard towards another world title. He is in red hot form, too, tasting victory at stop six; J-Bay.
The entire event will be broadcast live on Kayo Sports and Foxtel, which you can compare below. A solid 10 to 16-foot swell is pushing across the reef in the lead-up to the event, giving competitors a chance to hone their skills in style. The competition window, however, doesn't look too flash on the long-range forecasts. We'll keep you posted.
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How to stream the WSL online for free
If you want to watch the World Surfing League for free, it is possible. In 2018, the WSL partnered with Facebook, with the latter no broadcasting each event on the World Tour, as well as some CT events and the Big Wave Tour, through the social network. That same stream is also embedded on the official World Surf League website and in the official WSL app. However, while free is good, there are significant issues with watching in this manner.
Facebook is a very restrictive way to watch live sport. You cannot pause or rewind the feed, which is annoying with surfing where nothing happens for long periods and then you can look away right as a wave finally comes. There can also be emoticons floating up the page, and constant comments popping up in the side-feed, which are distracting. Plus, we've had frequent problems with the stream just stuttering or stopping outright.
As such, you may want to consider a paid service that offers a far better experience.
The best way to stream the WSL online
In Australia, the World Surf League events are also broadcast on the Fox Sports channels through either Foxtel or Kayo Sports. Given the nature of the WSL events, which are dependent on daily weather and surf conditions, it can be a little tricky to judge from the TV guide alone when the competition is on. However, there are replays and rewind features built into these systems if you miss the start.
Our pick is the newly launched Kayo Sports. As well as a live stream of the WSL events, you can rewind many hours with ease, access replays and enjoy supplementary content (such as surf documentaries). Kayo Sports also has many unique sports viewing features, include a picture-in-picture mode perfect for watching the WSL when at work, SplitView, hide scores, jump to key moments and more.
Kayo Sports can be streamed to almost any device, and to a TV via ChromeCast. There is a more detailed analysis in our full review, but the other big defining characteristic worth noting here is its price. At $25 per month, with access to over 50 other sports on top of the WSL tournaments, it's great value. Thankfully there is a 14-day free trial so you can experience it for yourself.
Foxtel also remains an option, either through the Foxtel IQ traditional set-top box experience, or via the Foxtel Now streaming service. Neither of these services, however, offer the extensive feature-set provided by Kayo Sports, and they're priced at $68 and $54 per month respectively.
It's worth noting that for the extra price you do get additional non-Sport content, which is a situation that may be better suited to your needs. Plus, in the case of Foxtel IQ, the ability to watch 4K content. So, these services are not without their merits and we have more information available to read here.
However, if you're simply looking for a better way to watch the WSL online than Facebook and you're keen on other sports like Cricket, Rugby League, AFL or the V8 Supercars, Kayo Sports is your best bet.
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Watch the Big Wave World Tour in Australia - Red Bull Cape Fear
Through all of the means detailed above you can also watch the events that take place on the Big Wave World Tour. The nature of this tournament means that the event dates are fluid and are sometimes not even run depending on the arrival of a swell. A Big Wave World Tour needs big waves, naturally.
The Australian leg of the tour has had a change in 2019, too. Where the event was held in Sydney in recent years, in 2019 the Red Bull Cape Fear event has moved to the iconic Shipstern Bluff off the coast of Tasmania.
One of the world's most revered and dangerous big wave magnets, Shipstern Bluff is isolated and epic. A menacing slab, where deep water waves launch themselves suddenly over a shallow rock ledge, it's definitely worthy of becoming the next Red Bull Cape Fear venue. The world's best big wave surfers will be in the vicinity from May 13, 2019, with swell looking like reaching a promising 15ft during the start of the event window.
A decision on whether the Red Bull Cape Fear big wave tournament will be held on any given day is made by 8:00 am in the morning. So make sure you are staying close to Kayo Sports - who will show the Red Bull Cape Fear event live and on-demand - or your preferred sports streaming option on the day for news.
List of 2019 Men's World Surf League surfers
|Jordy Smith||South Africa||5|
|Conner Coffin||United States||7|
|Michel Bourez||French Polynesia||8|
|Kolohe Andino||United States||11|
|Griffin Colapinto||United States||18|
|Adriano de Souza||Brazil||19|
|Ricardo Christie||New Zealand||Qualifier|
|Kelly Slater||United States||30|
|John John Florence||Hawaii||35|
List 2019 Women's World Surf League surfers
|Lakey Peterson||United States||2|
|Caroline Marks||United States||7|
|Courtney Conlogue||United States||8|
|Nikki Van Dijk||Australia||10|
|Paige Hareb||New Zealand||18|
|Brisa Hennessy||Costa Rica||Rookie|