"We're surf participating!"

Revealed: Wave tanks leading to massive boom in “surf participation!”

Numbers through the roof!

Do the unintended consequences of new technologies keep you awake at night? Oh how many movies have we watched where a good-hearted inventor creates something for the sake of humanity only to have his creation spin beyond control hurting, killing, causing madness? My favorite in the genre has to be Harrison Ford’s The Mosquito Coast where he builds an ice machine for beautiful savages only to rip their culture, and his family apart.

My second favorite, though, is Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch where the invention of wave-producing tanks leads to a massive “surf participation” boom culminating in worldwide “gang” fight where ocean surfers and pool surfers attempt to drown each other into submission.

Well, us ocean surfers will be far outnumbered during those dystopian days as a new article in Forbes magazine reveals that “surf participation” is up in the United Kingdom a whopping 40% all thanks to artificial technologies and let’s dig in with our Sunday blueberry pancakes (bitter Monday cup of coffee for our Australian friends and delicious pint of ale for our brand-new English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish friends. Welcome!)

While hardcore surfers might lament a wave-on-demand culture, the reasons for the increase in “wave pool surfing” are simple. In the U.K. surfing is one of the fastest growing sports, with a 40% increase in participation between 2015 and 2017, according to the latest British Marine Association Annual Watersports Participation Survey.

There are now over 1 million surfers in the U.K., “but the coastline isn’t producing any more waves than it did before,” says Stoddart. Nor do most people live anywhere near decent surfing beaches.

But with world surf champion Kelly Slater putting his own name behind an artificial wave, with the Kelly Slater Wave Company, the concept has gained accreditation. Slater called his wave, “a complement or supplement to what surfing is,” and it now hosts World Surfing League (WSL) competitions.

All fine and wonderful and I don’t really think there will be worldwide “gang” fight in the near future pitting ocean surfers against pool surfers. I think we’ll all get along just fine, as long as these pool surfers don’t come near the ocean. My real question is, what happens when what Slater called, “a complement or supplement to what surfing is” eclipses what surfing is?

The day is coming.

Also, is the World Surf League too busy mocking Mavericks every year to actually build another pool besides Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore or is there a cagy strategy behind being dead last in the wave tank arms race?


Build your dream home, here, where children with whisky breath can roam and where little dogs are trained to walk on their hind legs.

Gimme: Surf industry titans look to sell crummy apartment block overlooking Snapper Rocks for $12 million-plus!

Build your dream home overlooking most crowded wave in world!

If you were Ziff or his monied ilk, where would you pour your riches? Cars? Jets?

Boats you can park in international waters and play out your every illegal vice until your jaw is tired and around you are the desiccated husks of citizens from every corner of eastern Europe?

If was I, it would be this fine quarter-acre of dirt, currently home to a low-rise block of ghetto apartments with point-blank views of the Supa Bank, and with a price tag north of twelve-million Australian dollars, roughly 500 American or thirty British pounds.

I would commence destruction of the apartments immediately and build a home modelled after the French castle Vaux le Vicomte. It would include a 3,000-square-foot wine cellar with a tasting room, two-story library, commercial kitchen, cutlery room and spacious ballroom. Turkish baths would also be installed in every room.

The old Wolf Pak, which I’d bring back together, would be employed as full-time crowd control and installed in a pavilion at the rear. That part of the house would remain out of bounds to my girlfriends.

Children with whisky breath would be free to roam and little dogs sourced from Mexico would be trained to walk on their hind legs. 

Why the twelve-mill for the land?

Buy it and you can build almost forty metres (130 feet) into the Gold Coast sky.

The six owners are rumoured to include the four-time world champ Mark Richards, who owns the top floor apartment, and a prominent boat owner currently at sail in the Mentawais.

The sale is via expressions of interest.

Express yours here.


Mystery: One-time “Shark Capital of the World” Cape Town, South Africa has lost all of its “man-eating” Great Whites!

Scientists don't know why but I do.

I’ve been so busy keeping up with the heaps and heaps of Great White sharks turning my once bucolic North County, San Diego paradise into a blood-curdling hell that I’ve not kept up with one-time “Shark Capital of the World” Cape Town, South Africa. The man-eating beasts were a constant threat for Afrikaans-speaking locals. Attacks were not uncommon and neither were deaths. Extremely scary but waters once teeming with ghastly teeth and rolled-back eyes are now peaceful. No Great White has been spotted in over eighteen months.

Scientists are uncertain as to what led to the prehistoric villain’s disappearance. The fair and balanced Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Between 2010 and 2016 staff at the Shark Spotting Program, established to warn swimmers when the three-tonne predators approached beaches, reported an average of 205 sightings of the fish off the beaches of False Bay.

In 2018 that fell to 50 and this year not one has been seen. None have been seen at Seal Island, a one-time feeding ground off the coast.

“Further supporting evidence of the absence of these large apex predators is the lack of any feeding or bite marks on whale carcasses the city has removed from False Bay this year,” Cape Town’s municipality said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We do not know how their absence from False Bay would affect the ecosystem. Neither do we know the causes for their disappearance.”

Ahhhh but I know. The bastards have packed their blood-thirst and come on over to my once pastoral North County, San Diego, turning it into a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

What gave the bastards reason to pack their blood-thirst and move? Again, scientists are uncertain. Some believe overfishing has led to their flight. Others believe that the arrival of Orcas caused them to leave.

I’ve been preaching pet Orcas in the lineup for years. I trust that the North County, San Diego powers-that-be finally take me seriously and especially those with ties to Kelly Slater’s preferred theme park Sea World.

More as the story develops.


Listen: “The power of shame is a curious thing; makes one man weep, makes another man sing!”

Surf talk.

The Tahiti Pro Teahupoo presented by Hurley is still fresh on my lips, especially that penultimate day, and it saddens me greatly that it will be chased by hot action from a steamy pool in Lemoore, California. Oh, I know Freshwater Pro is still weeks away but the depression is already creeping. I love our times together during the contests. Love our “live chats” but truly don’t know if I’ll be able to muster the requisite oomph in order to turn that Freshwater Pro on to watch with you. The mechanical drone of the sled. The odd format. The cows grazing and gazing over the fence at sunburned sows throwing back Michelob Ultra Gold brewed with Zoe Kravitz.

Shame on the World Surf League for introducing that cursed tank to the tour.

Shame!

Speaking of, I drove to Album surfboards yesterday, there in San Clemente, and sat down with David Lee Scales to discuss all manner of this and that. We spent much time on shame and how sad that it has vanished, more or less, from our safespace snowflake surfing world. I got on, again, about how World Surf League commentators’ refusal to say what we are all seeing, that the Panda and Yago Dora were too afraid to surf, was an insult to us.

Shame is a powerful tool and useful too. Every time I have been kicked into shame’s burning klieg light I’ve been thankful, later. Sure it stings, sure it burns, but hopefully it burns another little piece of weak will. Another little bit of lily-liver.

We need more shame.

David Lee and I also discussed style, the whole Big Wave thing and the greatest show that has ever appeared on television. Can you guess what it is? Shame is omnipresent!


Sea Change: The World Surf League radically alters their Big Wave World Tour!

"People are small, waves are big and far away!"

Were you on the edge of your seat, wondering what the World Surf League was going to do with their Big Wave World Tour leading into the northern hemisphere fall/winter 2019/2020? Neither was I but an important press release sent out this morning also sent ripples across the surf journalism world. Ripples so big, so robust, as to form into a “big wave” themselves and shall we read together? We have to. We can’t not.

Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced its new and enhanced Big Wave platform. WSL’s new platform for big wave surfing will deliver unrivaled big wave action through the new Strike Missions series, reimagined events, the Big Wave Awards, and year-round content, all centralized into a new digital home designed to spotlight the boundary-pushing performances by big wave surfers.

The new WSL Big Wave platform raises the profile of big wave surfing and empowers its athletes by capturing and showcasing more exciting big wave moments. Instead of waiting for swells to hit, the dynamic new platform will allow the WSL to be faster to react, going deeper into the action whenever and wherever the biggest waves are breaking. This will offer fans the most thrilling content, including strike mission highlights, and the latest news in the world of big wave surfing.

The WSL’s new platform will feature four distinct areas, in addition to year-round content: the Strike Missions series, the Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Pe’ahi, the Nazaré Tow Challenge, and the Big Wave Awards.

The Strike Missions series will track swell models and deploy WSL camera teams into the eye of the storm in order to showcase big wave surfing beyond competitions. With the launch of WSL Studios earlier this year, this new content will bring fans closer to big wave surfing than ever before through exclusive behind-the-scenes storytelling and unparalleled highlights.

“I am excited about the big picture here and looking at big wave surfing differently with this new platform,” said Keala Kennelly, reigning Big Wave World Champion. “The new approach is going to reflect the reality and adaptability of big wave surfing where these incredible feats happen at any time, and with WSL, I want to be able to share these epic moments with the world.”

The WSL will host two reimagined events this season at Pe’ahi, Hawaii and Nazaré, Portugal. The Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Pe’ahi will feature the best and most proven big wave surfers from around the world to decide the men’s and women’s Big Wave World Champions. Big wave surfing’s most iconic break, Pe’ahi (aka Jaws), is known as the greatest test of skill and courage in the paddle surfing universe. The Nazaré Tow Challenge will host invitees as they utilize jet skis to tow into Nazaré’s biggest waves. Nazaré is the home of world record-setting waves and will display barrier-breaking surfing in this never-before-seen competition.

Etc.

Important but do you really really care about the Big Wave World Tour? I didn’t until today but this “Strike Mission” business mixed in with a grand slam format seems the future of professional surfing and I just had to call Senior Vice-President of Tours Etc. famous professional surfer and star of Endless Summer II Pat O’Connell for more. He was gracious enough to take my call and also gracious enough to speak truth.

Chas: I don’t care that Mavericks has been disappeared. Those locals should be stoked. They get the best days of their year back. Any Mavericks aficionado will be partying in the streets right now. Freedom!

(I laugh)

Pat: So what we’re really trying to do here is deliver on a year ’round proposition. To capture the pinnacle moments and let’s take Tahiti for example. If we can capture that content of epic swell days and deliver it to the people quickly, why wouldn’t we do that? People are small, waves are big and far away. All we’re trying to do is make this more accessible and with this new format I think it’s the best way to make that happen.

Chas: I completely agree and think you should shift this format onto the regular tour?

Pat: There’s no plans for that yet but we take things as they happen every day.

Chas: Well hurry up with those plans!

We chatted lots more, a freewheeling discussion about surfing, in general, and professional surfing, specifically. Pat is engaged in the process and  but ruthlessly narrowing down the big wave events to two that are guaranteed to run every year then adding a fun, reflexive video component seems the way the entire enterprise should go.

Don’t you agree?