Surfers are never happy. They are far from the chilled out, easy-going stereotype everyone likes to peddle. Surfers are probably the worst kind of people in the world. As one, I can attest to this, I am never happy. Under the surface you cannot blame them, having a sport/hobby/addiction that is entirely dependant on every other outside force other than your own. You want to surf? Well, is the sea working? No, then looks like you need to do something else. When the stars do align, and you do get some good waves, is anyone actually happy? No, because every other surfer in a 50 mile radius turns up. Everybody complains about conditions and crowds, and how nobody should have learned to surf after 2009 (my own highly valid point). Basically if you don't surf, don't start.
Then how can this problem be solved, what could possibly cure the ailments of all surfers? More importantly, who is going to step up and save us all? Kelly Slater, that's who. After deciding not to feed the world or solve the energy crisis, he did something even better. By slapping God in the face all the while laughing with that beautiful hairless head of his, he created the perfect wave, that never ends, independent of weather patterns. Do we all down our tools and make the pilgrimage to the now holy land of Lemore, California and worship our saviour at the watery altar? No, we collectively mock and tear his creation down like the heretics we are. “KELLY HAS RUINED SURFING”, the cries of the keyboard warriors are launched into the echo chamber where everyone has decided that Kelly must have drained the ocean and sacrificed babies to allow this unnatural power.
The spotlight on the Wave Pool at the 'Founders Cup' event earlier this year certainly drew the detractors in swarms. Kelly invited all the pros and media to his divine creation and held a friendly competition. This was met with thunderous criticism; claims of boring, soulless and empty surfing on an empty manmade wave. Did anyone have to watch this? Did anyone even have to pay? I won't include those who splashed out the equivalent of twenty WaveStorms for the honoured privilege of the VIP package, they only have themselves to blame for that one. Now before I go on, I do agree that this event had nothing on any actual surf breaks in the world, but who cares. It was fun to see unnaturally talented surfers on unnaturally made waves.
The wave pool phenomenon will inevitably split the world of surfing in two. But it could equally save the world of surfing just the same. Much how skating split from freestyle into street and vert, the split in the road just allowed separate forms of skating. The introduction of vert skating didn't suddenly make all the freestylers cry and cast their Powell's into the fire, it just gave us Tony Hawk instead. Wave pool surfing could potentially create a new style altogether. Endless perfect ramps for endlessly progressive airs. We could see a whole new sport, the vert equivalent for surfing. Because let's be honest, nobody wants to see endless power hacks on four foot walls.
What impact does Kelly Slater and his manmade wave actually have on the everyday surfer? And why are we angry? Yeah, it might bring some unwanted additions to the world of surfing, which might in turn fill our oceans up with even more people that nobody needs. But if wave pools keep cropping up all over the world, that could just mean less people want to bother with fighting and getting angry at mother nature for not providing waves when we demand. So I say bring on the wave pools and the olympics and everything else that professional surfing is dragging with it into the mainstream consciousness, preferably in the direction away from the ocean. Turns out, this may have been his plan all along... Thanks a lot Kelly.