The IBC World Tour aims to provide clarity regarding Mike Stewart’s withdrawal from the 2023 Gran Canaria Frontón King 2023 event, for the sake of public understanding and consideration.
Gáldar, October 21, 2023.
First and foremost, it is crucial to refer to the IBC Rule Book (available to all athletes and fans at ibcworldtour.com). In this book, you can find information about riders’ responsibilities towards the world tour, including their obligation to confirm their intention to participate in an event.
“1.5.03 Failure to confirm intention to compete pursuant to 1.2.02 will result in the loss of any seeding that the competitor may have had going into the event.” – IBC Rule Book
Furthermore, during pre-registration, athletes commit to adhering to the terms and conditions of the event. In the specific case of the Frónton King, riders are obliged to be present at Frontón on Wednesday, October 11th, at 5:00 PM, to attend the briefing.
On October 5, online pre-registrations for adults were closed as the list had been fully filled. (This process opened on September 25, 2023).
On October 6, Mr Stewart requested inclusion in the registered list to the riders’ representative, Amaury Lavernhe. He was subsequently asked to register on the Reserve List, which he accepted, thereby acknowledging the terms and conditions of the Gran Canaria Frontón King and IBC, as well as the rulebook. In consultation with the Technical Director, the Gran Canaria Frontón King and IBC organization gave priority to Mr Stewart in registrations over juniors without a ranking, aligning with the IBC rulebook. Mr Stewart received a link to pay the $50 USD pre-registration fee, allowing him to enter the final list of 80 pre-registered competitors for the 2023 edition.
On October 10, the Gran Canaria Frontón King organization sent an email to all participants, announcing the modification of the date and time of the safety and sports technical briefing of the event, which is mandatory for all competitors.
The original briefing, scheduled for October 11 at 5:00 PM, was rescheduled to October 12 at 10:00 AM. The official event dates, published on the IBC website since January 2023, were always set to run between October 12 and October 27, 2023.
Later that day, Mr Stewart informed the organization via email that he could not be present due to economic difficulties in acquiring a plane ticket.
This reason was considered insufficient for missing the MANDATORY check-in and briefing for the athletes, which was thoroughly communicated through official channels more than two weeks before the event and detailed in the event terms and conditions that he accepted during pre-registration.
Ensuring timely arrival was Mr Stewart’s responsibility, not a failing of the organization. In the same email, Mr Stewart noted that he could not reach Gran Canaria Island until the afternoon of October 14.
“1.6.04 Non-attendance for medical or personal reasons must be supported to avoid possible fines or non-refund of fees paid to IBC, whether in full or in part.”
To support medical or personal reasons for non-attendance, entrants must provide the IBC Technical Director (if absent from the entire event) or Tour Manager (if still present at the event but missing a heat) with a signed and dated medical certificate completed by a qualified medical practitioner or other supporting evidence for assessment.
“Supporting evidence” may include evidence of personal tragedy, death, or acute serious illness in the immediate family or involving a spouse/partner, or other misfortune beyond the control of the individual, including documentary evidence of airline travel arrangement cancellations.
Considering that Mr Stewart would be in the 4th round of trials (not having a sufficient ranking for the main event and not being a seeded player) and could compete on October 12 if the competition began, the IBC Technical Panel decided to remove his seeding position in the rounds to minimize the impact on the competition and the event, in accordance with the IBC rulebook.
On October 12, the final registration took place at 10:00 AM, with 127 out of 128 pre-registered participants attending the briefing, fulfilling the basic requirements of the event. The safety briefing concluded at 2:00 PM, including the RSP course, mandatory for all athletes, as well as specific safety instructions for the wave.
On October 13, the final lists with the heats (Draws) of the event were published, assigning Mr Stewart to the 80th position in round 1. It was also decided to place him in the last heat of round 1 to allow him more time to geet to the event. Mr Stewart expressed his disagreement via email, to which the IBC World Tour Technical Panel explained the decision and its basis according to the rulebook.
On October 14, the first check-in for that day was published, but Mr Stewart still had not arrived. Ultimately, it was decided not to start the event to provide even more time for Mr Stewart to make his heat.
On October 15, in a new check-in, Mr Stewart arrived 30 minutes before the event’s commencement and requested a meeting with the IBC World Tour Technical Director, Francisco Garritano. However, the Technical Director was engaged in a pre-competition meeting with the panel of judges. Mr Stewart decided to go surfing instead of waiting. In heat 2, he approached an organization member and expressed his decision to not compete, requesting a refund of the registration fee. Although the policy stated that registrations are non-refundable once completed, the organization, in good faith, refunded the registration fee and offered his place to a competitor from the reserve list, who eagerly accepted it.
(Given this situation, based on the Event Terms and Conditions accepted by Mr. Stewart during pre-registration, and the fact that he arrived at the event only on the 15th, the organizers were entitled to disqualify his participation in the competition completely. Instead, they allowed Mr. Stewart to compete but with a loss of seeding on round 4, not his ranking loss).
It’s essential for the public to understand that no special privileges are granted to anyone .This rule applies to all competitors, and it is only fair that Mr. Stewart complies with it, just like any other competitor.
For the record, it should be noted that Mr Stewart was not seeded for the 2023 IBC World Tour (only the Top 16 had seeding for 2023). He received the IBC WildCard at the beginning of the season at the Antofagasta Bodyboard Festival, currently the most important competition of the year, with more points for the ranking on offer. Mr Stewart was thus granted the privilege to begin his participation in the main rounds
The Tour is about to end and the action is and will be amazing. There are many athletes battling for important points and we are about to crown 2 new world champs. We urge the public to focus on this and to help push our sport and not divert the attention to particular issues, punishing the effort of the whole World Tour.
We are aware that it is not an easy decision to accept, the events that occurred on social media and their unfounded statements generated a wave of hatred towards IBC, but more than that, towards all the staff involved. However, we trust the community understands the facts so that we can once again enjoy the bodyboarding spectacle that is taking place in Frónton.
The IBC are open to every suggestion and constructive criticism that you may have, for a global world tour to happen, there has to be a mutual understanding amongst everyone. United we stand, divided we fall. Visit our website for official contact details.
On a final note, we would like to remind you that every rider on the IBC World Tour must read the rule book carefully so situations like this do not happen again.