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?