BREAKING NEWS: O'Neill cancels surf competition

Cold Water Classic raised ire of local surf community, led to questions about city grant process.

Surfwear company O'Neill has cancelled its plans to hold its Cold Water Classic surf competition in Halifax.

The company had earned the ire of the local surf community by failing to engage with the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia, Instead, the company went directly to the city of Halifax, and city council happily gave the company a grant of $145,000---the largest ever given through normal granting processes, far more than any local non-profit organization has ever received. The grant for the Cold Water Classic nominally went through something called the Canadian Surfing Association, a "group" that has no legal standing, and which local surfers say consists of one person.

Local surfers also raised concerns about the possible failure of the event---the six days chosen for the competition were in September, when local surf conditions are at their worst, and when water temperatures are far from cold---surf temp is often above 20 degrees that time of year.

O'Neill appears to have wanted to move the competition to Halifax after the city of Tofino, British Columbia declined to increase its financial support of the event. Local controversy, however, has resulted in nothing but bad press for the company.

O'Neill has not responded to Coast requests for comments or interviews. But the company issued the following statement today:

O’Neill regrets to announce the cancellation of the O’Neill CWC Canada for 2011. Extensive consultation and discussion with key event stakeholders, along with a short period to properly prepare for the event, has led to this decision. During preliminary planning it became clear a shorter than usual planning window jeopardized the success of a 2011 CWC in Nova Scotia.

After establishing the Cold Water Classic series and professional surfing the last two years in Tofino, British Columbia, O’Neill explored the idea of bringing the 2011 CWC to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The beautiful and unique location would serve as an exciting new chapter to the CWC series. O’Neill intends to review Nova Scotia as a possible CWC location for 2012.

O’Neill would like to thank the Halifax Regional Municipality, all local agencies, and the community for their support and input.

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