Subsidies for wavepool builds, yes?
Last article on wavepools*, promise.
We all remember the Occupy Wall Street movement who wanted to, um, and um…. I have no idea, but whose main beef was that the culprits of the GFC: Wall Street bankers had gotten off not just scot free but had in fact been bailed out by the public to the tune of billions.
Privatising the profits, socialising the losses etc etc. They also popularised the famous and fabulous slogan decrying the bailed out suits as the “1%”.
We’ve also seen the stunning volte-face of the Kelly Slater Wave Company’s only operational wave system from the original pitch as a high-performance training centre to a cash cow corporate retreat.
That creates a few problems for the biz model moving forwards, as they say. Those golden, glorious words of three years ago where Kelly promised us that the tubs would “democratise” surfing look a bit threadbare now.
What we got is the opposite of that: a little playground for the rich and famous. Which is fine.
I’m an eat-the-rich guy by temperament and taste but a filthy capitalist at heart.
I love the hustle.
Nothing feels as good as making a tidy profit, especially from the fruits of your own labours. So we can’t really begrudge WSL and Kelly from changing tack on the biz model of the tub.
Even just a year ago, as the Founders Cup wrapped and wossle suits were high on the kool-aid, Nick Carroll identified the direction of movement as “not a country club for slightly chubby ageing rich people but a serious mega-sporting facility designed to raise the next generation of young super-surfers”.
What was missing from that analysis, of course, was who pays? The tub ain’t cheap to run and even if you suck out solar power from a facility that could be powering schools or hospitals to run the green line the market still decrees the joint has a serious potential profit margin attached to it. Fifty-five thousand a day is a nice little earner, probably the best one the WSL owns now that the Facebook deal has been wound back.
The answer to who pays, if and when the KSWC does begin their aggressive global roll-out has already been answered, at least in Australia.
Us! Us being the antipodean taxpayer.
The reason George W Bush’s Sheriff Nation of the South Pacific can sustain three (oceanic) CT events with our piddly twenty-five million population while the USA with three-hundred-and-forty million can sustain none is because we put pro surfing up there with universal health care and education for all.
We back it with taxpayer money.
Socialised pro surfing is the greatest innovation in its storied history, more powerful and enduring than the backing of a Floridian billionaire.
Socialised pro surfing works!
Or it did until the rise of Brazil. Now it looks more and more like a dud investment.
But we can recoup.
Pro surfing’s Aus socialism experiment includes the Hurley High Performance Centre. High-performance Director Kim Crane confirmed to me that the centre remained committed to using wave pools as training centres, but that no training sessions were currently booked. When asked if Team Australia surfers were charged at the $US55,000-day rate for training sessions at Lemoore over the nine days they used in 2018 Kim said the rate was “significantly lower”.
Half a million Aussie dollars to train! Crazy cats!
The results from the training?
Two out of the three male CT surfers, Connor O’leary and Matt Wilkinson, dropped off tour.
I don’t want to bitch and moan. I love free health care and education for all. If we need to tap the taxpayer for a few million to get some Slater tubs up then so be it.
Calls to Andrew Stark, former CEO of Surfing Australia, a man spectacularly successful at getting the government investing in surfing, and who was hired last year by WSL to rollout the wavepools in Australia were not returned. I only wanted to ask him if the biz model had (officially) changed, where the first Slater tub would go in Australia (rumours of a build at Coolum were scotched by the Sunshine Coast Council) and who would pay.
How about a heavily subsidized build, discounted training sessions and a few free waves on the side for the rich.
Sounds like socialism for the 1% to me.
*Until next time.