Tubes! Warm blue water! Japanese vibes!
If you’re old enough to have memories of the 90’s you might remember the Seagaia Ocean Dome. Opened in ’93, financed by Japanese asset price bubble it was hailed as the best wavepool ever built, the future of surfing, our ticket to the Olympics.
Only it wasn’t. Not because it didn’t work, but because it worked too well. A spitting, slabbing chlorinated barrel looks great on paper, but in practice that type of thing is far beyond the ability of most surfers.
Who need to be able to ride it so you can, you know, pay bills, stay open, that kind of thing.
So it just kind of languished.
I vaguely remember them running a contest, and one of the pros talking about how difficult it was to surf. Of course, it was the early nineties so boards were terrible, everyone but Slater kind of sucked, and I may be imagining it anyway since I can’t find anything online to back up my memory.
According to my copy of Warshaw’s The Encyclopedia of Surfing, “…Australia’s Matthew Pitts, a one time world tour pro, spent nearly five years in the early and mid- ’90s performing nightly as Sabu, the valiant sword-wielding surf prince, at the $100 million Ocean Dome wavepool in Miyazaki, Japan.”
Pretty neat, I can only imagine it was similar to the stage shows they put on at Knott’s Berry Farm or Six Flags, but with surfing involved. I loved those things as a dumb little brat, I can only imagine I would have lost my empty little mind if they involved surfing.
Until last night I’d never seen it running at full power. Pretty neat, kind of gnarly. Waves don’t break like that in deep water, it looks like a really fun way to lose a bunch of skin to the concrete bottom.
Don’t get too excited though, it’s dead now.
The preceding clip is reportedly the last time it was surfed, so you’ll have to get your stoke second hand by watching a baby Julian Wilson and pre-growth spurt Owen Wright take the place apart.