Is this the end or the beginning?
So there I was, ready to tuck into episode five of HBO’s Succession when the most scintillating message danced upon my telephone’s screen. “WSL closed Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s Solana Beach office and let almost all of the original staff go two weeks ago. Even more strange is the rumor that they are shutting Surf Ranch down at the end of 2019 and taking the pool off tour.”
What? I rubbed my eyes and read again but there it was in black and white. Office closed, Surf Ranch getting shuttered and taken off tour.
An explosive rumor. A real earthquake.
I fired back for more details, making sure that disgruntled ex-employees weren’t passing on bad information and my source could not confirm but didn’t think that was the case.
Now, I know that the Surf Ranch facility was never supposed to be open to the public when it first came online in 2015, days after Adriano de Souza won his maiden World Title, rubbing “the hardest working man in surfing’s” dreams into the ground. It was built to be a test facility, somewhere to dial in the technology. The public’s interest, and possibly the difficulty in opening a new tank somewhere more pleasant, say outside of Miami, might have forced co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff and co.’s hand in doing some invite-only days in Lemoore which turned into the Freshwater Pro née Surf Ranch Pro née Founders Cup but that was never the original plan because who in their right mind would ever want to go to Lemoore?
The Surf Ranch facility has done its job, quite frankly, and it stands to reason that it would eventually be mothballed. The question I have is why hasn’t the World Surf League sold any other tanks? Why let Wavegarden and American Wave Machines and Surf Lakes get so far ahead? There must be a plan but what? Acquire Surf Lakes and Surf Lakes technology? Go on a massive sales bender after the Freshwater Pro, pushing Kelly Slater’s vision into every bankrupt mall in America? Figure out a way to combine the Surf Ranch barrel, which takes a minimum of four minutes in between each wave that only one Waterperson of the Year can ride at a time, with the high-volume experience of a Wavegarden?
You recall that the WSL recently purchased the NLand tub in Austin and hauled the Wavegarden machinery away. Will Kelly Slater be standing shoulder to shoulder with Matthew McConaughey at the end of 2019, days after Kolohe Andino wins his maiden World Title, showcasing a perfect crouchy barrel that can fit ten Texans at a time?
Will Kolohe be sad?
More as the story develops.
(Note: The story has developed already! A full-throated defensive of Surf Ranch’s longterm health straight from Santa Monica!)