kelly slater surf ranch
Whereas the right at Surf Ranch is remarkable, the left is merely fun and highly rippable. | Photo: KSWaveCo

Explained: Why the left (sorta) sucks at Surf Ranch!

A revealing interview with pool co-inventor Adam Fincham…

Okay. The left don’t…suck…but it ain’t no secret the right is the money shot at the Slater-Fincham pool.

Did you ever wonder why?

Is it, despite the planting of trees all around the joint, the prevailing wind that makes it crumble so? Some quirk of water volume or similar?

Earlier today, tech magazine Wired ran an interview with the pool’s co-inventor Adam Fincham, a Research Associate Professor at University of Southern California who has worked with Kelly since 2006 to create a masterpiece of bathymetry on the outskirts of a lousy cotton-farming town four hours north-east of Los Angeles.

Wade through the story and you’ll hit this.

Fincham stops our conversation again to stare at the wave, and I ask him what he’s looking for.

“I don’t want to see too much whitewater coming off the fence there,” he says, pointing to the part of the wave that’s closest to the fence. It’s that left again—a wave peeling to the left of the surfer—barreling toward the south side of the lagoon. Where there should be an unblemished, clean face of a wave, there’s a spray of surf shooting up in the direction of the hydrofoil apparatus.

“We saw it happen on one of the waves a while ago, and we’re trying to ascertain what control we have over it in this particular situation,” Fincham says. “This was designed to only make rights, and then we retrofit it to make lefts as well. So it’s not optimized for the lefts. It’s a weakness.”


It’s why he’s still obsessing over it now, that wave that’s showing just a little bit of whitewater where it shouldn’t. Fincham is nowhere to be found when I leave the Surf Ranch in the late afternoon, but there’s a good chance he’s off somewhere staring at that left, the one that’s not yet perfect.

Other notable facts: the pool is filled with fifteen million gallons of water and on a hot day, which ain’t so rare out in Lemoore, a quarter-of-a-million gallons can evaporate.

The pool’s deepest point is nine feet; shallowest is three-and-a-half.

The hydrofoil weighs 10o tons and is covered by tarps so no secrets are revealed and it has solar panels on the top so drones can’t film it.

Read here.

Forget what you read here yesterday. At 61-to-1, y'can't go past Conner O'Leary for a dark horse bet. | Photo: WSL

Surf Gambling: Meet the dark horse who could turn your thirty bucks into $2000 at the Surf Ranch Pro!

An extremely well-plotted betting slip by a former Fantasy Surfer winner…

Betting on surf contests flutters the lips, elevates the blood pressure and so on. Did you know that all the odds for WCT events are set by non-surfers using statistics and nothing else?

There is no insider trading, no quarter given to the surf forecast, no nod to a surfer’s affinity with a particular wave.

And what does that say to you, a life-long surfer, a student of the game?

Well, it screams advantage.

And, so, over the back end of the tour, BeachGrit, with a modest $500 deposit and the advice of former WCT surfer and 2015 Fantasy Surfer champion Blake Thornton, is going to beat hell out of Australia’s betting agencies.

Because the Surf Ranch Pro has evaporated the forty-year-old man-on-man format, opportunities are a little limited. You can bet on the winner and nothing else.

Still, let’s have some fun.

First, we’ll drop fifty dollars on Gabriel Medina, who is at 5-to-one. Thornton, who is thirty-three years old, says the event is, likely, a battle between Filipe Toledo and Gabriel but it’s Gab who has a slightly stronger backhand, on the face and in the tube. “Both are extremely strong on their forehands,” says Thornton, “but the amount of manoeuvres Gabriel’s able to do on his backhand and the way they’re linked together perfectly and how in the pocket they are and how he’ll go into the next one with with ease will be the difference.”

Second, forty dollars on Filipe at 3.75-to-one. This is a little hedge bet. A likely winner but at under four to one, not especially lucrative. With a hundred and fifty in the game, we’ll throw forty on Filipe to cover ourselves. “He has the wave completely dialled. Three full-rotation alley-oops on one wave is pretty unbelievable.”

Third, thirty dollars on the Australian Conner O’Leary at 61-to-one. (Yesterday, the shaper to the stars Matt Biolos said Conner had no chance. Thornton differs. )

Thornton says that because the right breaks differently to the left, two distinct barrels compared to one barrel and turns, the screw-foots have a slight advantage. And, says Thornton, “I was watching the highlights from Conner’s first trip there and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone surf a left like him.” Potential win: two gees.

Of the middle pack, Thornton says that were it a heat-by-heat event, Adriano would be a cinch to get through a few rounds but since it’s winner-only, at 26-to-one, you’d be a little nuts to go past Kolohe Andino (“He’s due for a big result”) and Kanoa Igarashi (“He’s looking amazing on those Sharp Eyes) at 41-to-one.

Throw ten bucks at the best performing surfer at the Founders’ Cup, Jordy Smith (11-to-one) and we’ve got a well plotted betting slip.

Or are we just throwing peanuts in the air?

Big changes for 2019 tour! Quiksilver pulls out of tour opener and event in Hossegor. Tour finale in the Ments cancelled. And Pipe is back. Maybe John John too! | Photo: Steve Sherman/WSL/@tsherms

Revealed: The 2019 World Surf League tour schedule!

Margaret River returns and other surprises!

Press release from Santa Monica (sorry I’ll riff in a bit but gotta run out and grab plate lunch real quick. In the meantime…):

“Very pleased to announce a healthy and diverse 2019 schedule to challenge the world’s best surfers throughout the year,” Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. “This level has to be the proving ground and the platform for the advancement of the world’s best surfing and we’re very happy with where it’s at next season.”

Once again returning to world-class venues from Australia to Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, North America, French Polynesia, Europe and Hawaii, a key change in the 2019 CT calendar is the breakup for the three-event Australia leg with a break following the Gold Coast and Bells Beach events before recommencing with the Bali event and returning to Margaret River as the fourth stop of the season.

“Margaret River has been a key stop on the CT for several seasons now and we had the unique and unfortunate circumstance of having to cancel this season’s event due to aggressive shark activity in the area,” Perrow said. “Working with our surfers, event partners and the local community, we’ve moved the dates of the Margaret River event later in the year to improve the pacing of the season as well as ensure the best chance for world-class conditions at all breaks.”

2019 Men’s Championship Tour Schedule*:
Gold Coast Men’s Pro: April 3 – 13, 2019
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: April 17 – 27, 2019
Bali Men’s Pro: May 13 – 24, 2019
Margaret River Pro: May 27 – June 7, 2019
Oi Rio Pro: June 20 – 28, 2019
J-Bay Open: July 9 – 22, 2019
Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o: August 21 – September 1, 2019
Surf Ranch Pro: September 19 – 22, 2019
France Men’s Pro: October 3 – 13, 2019
Meo Pro Peniche: October 16 – 28, 2019
Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8 – 20, 2019


Unveiled: Billabong x Creed collaboration!

"Billabong takes you higher!"

I totally saw the press release for Billabong’s latest collaboration with Creed and assumed, without even a shadow of doubt, that the collaboration was with Creed the band. Do you remember them? I think vaguely Christian with a marketable “grunge” lead singer who had the voice of an angel or at least the voice of Eddie Vedder.

I thought that Billabong was following up collaborations with Andy Warhol and Iggy Pop with a tiny slice of 90s nostalgia in an utterly post-ironic ironic way and felt like the brand had reached the heights of artistic expression in one fell swoop.

The social commentary, the wink wink, the barbed wire motifs, the earnest but so so funny lyrics… all of it made me want to find Billabong’s lead designer and hug him and tell him that the joke was the best ever played in surfing and that for certain they would sell out entirely because of the self-awareness so lacking from our space for so long.

I was already dreaming of a t-shirt featuring this image:

With the words “Billabong takes you higher!” underneath in faux grungy font. Absolutely crushing it.

Then I realized the collaboration was with Billabong team rider Creed McTaggart and, while I like Creed McTaggart very much, wondered why Billabong would do a collaboration with a team rider.

Like, isn’t the overall partnership a collaboration?

Now I’m sad. Could someone please make me a t-shirt featuring that image with the words “Billabong takes you higher!” underneath in faux grungy font?

Shop here!

Forecast: Lowers set to shine during Surf Ranch Pro!

It's Murphy's Law or at least the surfer version!

Of course you knew the very second the World Surf League abandoned Lower Trestles, replacing it with the Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, that the forecast would be good-great for greater San Clemente during that window. It’s Murphy’s Law or at least the surfer version. “It’s always better down the beach.”

To be fair, I don’t know that Lowers will necessarily be “better” than Surf Ranch over the weekend. It would have been nice if some slightly rebellious surf flavored website enticed the world’s other best surfers (Noa Deane, Dane Reynolds, Chris Ward, etc.) out to Lowers with a trained camera live streaming so a direct comparison could be accurate.

Alas, the slightly rebellious surf flavored website spent its money on a billboard then gambled the rest. And, anyhow, a high performance longboarding tour named Relik acquired the permit and plans on serving sushi there on the cobbled stones while men on 9’0s try to break the fins free.

More on that later but Lowers will be humiliated, surely. It didn’t deserve humiliation, didn’t even ask for humiliation but that is also Murphy’s Law or at least the surfer version. “What’s that kook on a longboard trying to do?”

Which makes me think… I want Surf Ranch to shine. I want to be amazed by the competition. I want to be surprised by joy. I want every wave to feel special and I want the surfers to grind their heels into my badittude.

Then I want the World Surf League to keep all their permitted windows around the world, j-Bay, Snapper, Teahupo’o etc. but hold all competition at Surf Ranch and auction the ocean heats off to grumpy locals.

Isn’t that a fine idea?

How much would you pay to surf for 30 minutes at good-great Lowers with only one other grumpy local in the lineup?