Did y’see it coming? Half-an-hour ago, the WCT announced the not-so-surprising news that a little cotton farming town four hours north-east of Los Angeles would become a stop on the 2018 WCT schedule.
Lemoore, or L’Amour if you believe in love, is the home, of course, to Surf Ranch, the Slater-Fincham wave pool. As per the presser,
Since coming online in December 2015, the WSL Surf Ranch Facility in Lemoore, California has undergone constant refinement and evolution of its technology. A test event this year in September delivered very positive results in terms of competitive experience and the overwhelmingly supportive feedback from surfers training there throughout the season has encouraged the WSL to pursue an event at the facility in 2018. “The experience of competing at Surf Ranch is pretty extraordinary,” Adrian Buchan, CT competitor and athlete representative, said. “What the team has created is hard to fathom at first – a perfect, 400-yard-long, bi-directional wave in the middle of rural California. I have no doubt that both the quality of the wave and the experience is befitting of hosting a world-class CT event.
“We’re only scratching the surface of how this technology can be applied and it is completely game-changing for the sport,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said.
The rest of the 2018 tour will be announced next week and, meanwhile, the ocean, which I believe still has some validity, will host the tour finale, the Pipeline Masters.
Come and be accidentally and totally seriously inspired!
I was made aware of this story last week but somehow, between making fun of Stab, making fun of The Inertia and even dusting off ol’ Paul Speaker and making fun of him, it fell through the cracks. For this, I am deeply sorry. Rip-Current Rory exhibits the can-do spirit, the anti-depressive joie de vivre for which BeachGrit is known around the world.
You recall the basics. A young Scottish man (henceforth known as Rip-Current Rory) went for a surf at his home break. He was caught in a rip-current and pulled all the way to Ireland, spending many hours clinging to his yellowed board in the freezing seas and pondering death. Eventually he was saved and he vowed never to surf again, such wonderful advice for every surfer except for you and for me.
Later, he caveated his “never surf again” pledge by saying he would only go surfing IF he was with a large group, wearing a GPS tracking device and having someone waiting for him on the beach.
The good people at Surf Snowdonia, Wales’ most famous wave which also happens to break in a swimming pool, thought, “What if we invite the young man here? The farthest he could get pulled would be Cardiff and that’s only if he hopped a cab…”
Well, miracle beyond miracle, Rip-Current Rory accepted their offer! How was his time? Let’s turn to Welsh News Now:
When asked how his first experience back in the water was, Mr Bryce describes it as “fun”. “Nothing’s changed, it’s still surfing and that’s something I’ve been enjoying for four years,” he says.”What happened was because I was reckless. I went out on my own, it was poor planning, there was bad conditions – it was frankly just reckless.
“This is safe – I’m with people, it’s not in the open sea. There’s no reason to be scared of it because it’s like a pool.
Changing his tune, Mr Bryce now sees the pool as the first step in his road back to the ocean. “That will be with people, in safe conditions and it’s just going to be building it back up,” he says. “I could never go back into the sea on my own. That’s not changed, I could never do that. One, it’s unsafe, people shouldn’t be doing it anyway.
“And two, it’s terrifying. It would be terrifying for me to do that. Whereas this in the sea with friends, I think will be fine.”
Wipe those tears and watch:
Wow. I was still in making fun mood but now I feel like a complete asshole. That was, very seriously, the most inspirational surf short I’ve maybe ever seen. I’ve tried to cut out all the soft spots in my heart but, damn it, Rip-Current Rory got me good.
What’s your experience of the Mentawai Islands, those beautiful objects unveiled to the world by the surf pioneer Martin Daly and the retinue of famous guests on his boat, the Indies Trader, back in the early nineties?
Let me guess.
You get waves. You drink beer.
If it’s flat the skipper takes you up river to see how the little brown fellas still live. You’re delighted by how primitive it all is, throw a small amount of cash at souvenirs you don’t want (Who can say no to those pleading brown eyes?), and scurry back to the air-conditioning and movies of your floating palace.
I remember, once, throwing a terrific tantrum when the waiter on my vessel attempted to serve my afternoon gin and tonic with the portions askew. (Too little gin, an abundance of warm tonic.)
One surfer who didn’t follow the usual behavioural pattern of visitors to the Ments was Rob Henry, a surfer from Melbourne. He went there filming, met a local and was entranced by the whole indigenous trip, went native himself.
“There was a young Mentawai named Andy who had been working at the resort for a year, and he just had this incredible connection to the land and what I thought might be to his culture and freedom in his eyes that was something I had not seen in a long time.”
Rob soon found himself in a remote village farming coconuts, living with a community who didn’t speak English.
“I was interested in finding a village that was as far removed from the tourism as possible. At the time I didn’t know much about the culture or the area.
“I didn’t know the language either. I was directed to this particular village, so I arrived there and it was incredibly overwhelming and frightening and challenging.”
Rob eventually learned the native language and embedded himself in the community. He learnt more about the tribe’s traditional belief system, Arat Sabulungan.
“They believe that all natural things have a spirit and if a human was to pass away, their spirit would go out into nature and become part of nature.”
The Mentawai culture became threatened after 1945, when Indonesia gained independence. The new Government forced the Mentawai to abandon their traditional beliefs, and select one of its official religions instead: Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism or Buddhism.
The decades that followed eroded away the traditional Mentawai way of life, creating a new generation of Mentawai without the full knowledge of their Indigenous culture and beliefs.
“It is being lost,” Rob says, “It’s still alive within the elders, and it skipped one or two generations, a lot of Mentawai – particularly the elders still have this knowledge – and they want to pass this on to the next generations.”
Mentawai are now able to live freely, but the effects of a “skipped generation” have been profound, Rob says. He hopes his documentary As Worlds Divide, filmed over eight years, will help to shine a light on the Mentawai community.
“I learnt so much, I learnt how little is needed to be happy. It certainly doesn’t come from anything material. It’s really within yourself and your relationships with family and friends, and I think with any Indigenous culture that’s why they’ve been able to survive for tens of thousands of years.”
How much do you miss our ex-overlord WSL CEO Paul Speaker?
(Recent and uncovered correspondence from the World Surf League’s ex-CEO Paul Speaker!)
From the desk of Paul Speaker Former CEO of the World Surf League
To: Hawaiian locals
c/o Ted’s Bakery, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Aloha friends and honi ko’u ‘elemu to you all or as we mainlanders say, a very warm and sincere greetings.
Well, it is that time of year again, the Vans Triple Crown of Professional Surfing on Oahu’s North Shore and boy I just couldn’t be more excited. From the opening “hooter” of Hale’iwa to the final “bomb” at the Banzai Pipeline, the “seven-mile miracle” is the place for all true surfers to be and the place all surf enthusiasts dream about. This is our okole puka, our crowning achievement, and billions around the globe are watching thanks to you, the kanapapiki. The heart, soul and history of this our beloved sport. Us the Hawai’ian people.
These are exciting days to be sure and I am very humbled to have brought trillions of surf fans into the World Surf League fold. As some of you may have heard, however, I stepped down as Chief Executive Officer late last year. Oh it was an excruciating decision that took many thoughts and prayers from my family, the surf community and me but we all felt that professional surfing has been left in the best possible place with quadrillion fans waiting to “root” their favorite surfer.
I write today to let you know of my intentions of purchasing a house near Sunset Beach. My time in and around the “sport of kings” taught me that there is no better place, no wahineho’okamakama, than your sacred land and my family and I will be honored to settle our heu lalo with you.
As it happens, I have heard from various groups through the “coconut wireless” that we are dissatisfied with the number of wildcards in the Pipeline Pro presented by Billabong and Honoring Andy Irons. Allow me to help. Since I will soon be a local it is my profound honor to surf in the opening rounds for our native island riding the traditional muli pala kukae. It is the very least I can do for all the mahalo you have shown me.
I look forward to “throwing shakas” with you all soon and until then, waiu oluheluhe or as we mainlanders say, live long and prosper.
Wavegarden sells “large stake” to Israeli billionaire!
Let me ask you something. If you were a phenomenally rich surfer, a billionaire, say, and wave pools were starting to be a thing and you could buy any of ’em you wanted, where would you park your cash?
It ain’t even a question.
I’d send my driver up to Lemoore in my Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, tell him to kick down the cedar gates, piss in the jacuzzi, toss the WSL a cheque, tell Raimana to stoke up the ski, kick the engine of that train over and get the foil moving and be done with it.
But, as revealed by the Wall Street Journal a few days ago, the company part-owned by the Israeli-born billionaire, and surfer, Adam Neumann, which is called WeWork and makes its cash by renting office space, gussying it all up and sub-letting it, bought a “large stake” in Wavegarden last year.
The brave little pool that showed the world it was possible to create an artificial wave that didn’t suck. But had to watch as an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, Adam Fincham, and the greatest-surfer-ever, Kelly Slater, combined to build Surf Ranch.
Twice as good? Ten times?
How hard it is to judge such a thing.
As Matt Warshaw posited at the time of the Surf Ranch’s reveal, “The bit at the end of the vid where Kelly parks in the tube, all I could think of was, I’ve never seen anything like that except maybe Barra. And Barra is hot and sticky and crowded, and where’s my passport, and where do you stay, and who’s renting the car, while this wave . . . fuck! I don’t know. Do I want to surf it? I don’t know. Yes. Yes, of course I want to surf it.”
Now, the question here, of course, is whether Neumann bought the tank because of its commercial viability or because he got into the game too early?
And the Webber pool!
Surely, he’s heard of the mythical tank fermenting somewhere in Queensland.