People will pay for sex. The question of whether they will pay for waves has now been answered emphatically in the affirmative.
The way I see it there’s really only three ways a gal can swing on the question of wavepools, at this juncture Jan, 2020.
There’s the all-out frothers, the curious (those for whom the Voltaire saying, “Once a philosopher, twice a pervert” applies) and the purists who’d like to nuke the tubs out of existence.
My tendency has been towards the latter position, but I left that guy at home for my one day, fly-in, fly-out mission to Melbourne Urbnsurf.
Being the last surf writer into the tub is a strange place to be.
Vision of the last swingers party there did not look inviting. I thought, yuck! The thought of all that throbbing surf gristle made me feel self-conscious and claustrophobic. I ain’t a herd animal, like to do my own thing in my own time.
Nonetheless, when a pal invited me along for a true FIFO punter experience it had to be done.
Being a regional deadshit, it was a trip of firsts.
First Uber ride, first duck parfait with mustard fruits on doughnut (velvety mouth feel, slightly bitter). The Chinese driver wore a face mask to pick us up from our Melbourne renoed terrace digs. Thick haze carpeted the city, officially the worst air quality on Earth.
If you cocked your head just the right way you could smell a million cooked koalas in the bushfire smoke.
Based on advice from others and the desire of my travel companions to not schlep boards through the city I hired a board from the facility. A well-manicured youth with impeccable teeth and a man bun from Toronto Canada aided this process.
Fifteen dollars for two hours. I chose a Hayden Shapes Holy Grail. My pals: a JS Nitro, Pyzel Astro Pop and Hypto Krypto.
All shortish, with generous asses and epoxy. Also recommended.
The take-off, wedged into a concrete corner, against the wall is stressful and hectic, but easily mastered. We started on the right, one hour. Intermediate mode. The first few waves were frustrating and weird. You can’t pump for speed, go faster than what the wave dictates. The power pocket is small.
“I’m going to get hold of you,” I thought, “and give you a good kicking.”
But I could not get hold of it.
Then I thought, “I’m bored, I’m done.”
I tried to remember what I’d learnt from the surf improvement and what I was doing wrong. I was trying to keep Derek Rielly’s recommendations in mind, trying to maintain my critical faculties when, in the relentless rush of waves, I was swept away in wavepool froth.
My mind went blank, I started jack-hammering away like an old priapic billy goat.
The siren sounded, we swapped sides.
The Holy Grail felt weird on the right, much better on the left.
Each wave was strangely unsatisfying but taken as a whole: mad, weird fun.
There was a dozen in our group. A dozen waves per set.
Twenty sets in an hour.
I rode a wave every set, save a set I missed when my legrope snapped on the right. Three times I rode two waves in a set, for a total of 42 waves in the two hours.
About what Ricardo Christie rode in an entire year on the CT.
People will pay for sex.
The question of whether they will pay for waves has now been answered emphatically in the affirmative.
The joint was packed.
Apart from our young female surf guide? Surf marshall?, I did not see a female paying customer.
Maybe gals do not want to pay for waves.
According to our marshall, rapid hierarchies form and snakeing can happen, even in the so-called democratisation of an artificial line-up where the dollar value of a wave makes everyone equal.
It’s quite easy to kick out early and get to the head of the line for one of the first three waves, which are cleanest. Gaming the system will be a common tactic in an eighteen-man lineup with twelve-wave sets.
The other question: will wavepool skills translate to the ocean, either via beginners developing proficiency or intermediates building skill sets is harder to answer.
It’s a helluva work-out.
Much more paddling than I expected and the use of rip and tight take-off zone is a decent simulacrum of various reefbreaks. There’s not much room for personal style or prettiness on the wave.
It happens quickly, is over quickly.
No one skill building in a pool is gunna come out looking like Joel Parkinson.
I guess that’s a qualified yes.
Straight out of Tullamarine on the Jetstar 464 to Ballina. Woken by the hostie as the wings dip over Lennox Point. The lines are stacked end to end across the Point. In the ensuing froth I left my voluminous notebook with thousands of words of detailed notes onboard.
Fifteen minutes to my pal’s place, on the end of one and then back out at the Point.
It’s cranking somewhere between intermediate and advanced setting, double-overhead sets. Dolphins careering through the line-up, a carnival atmosphere. Nature at its finest etc etc.
Three hours later, I got the fifty up, was so exhausted coming in I got pinballed through the rock garden and bruised up like a hanging meat carcass.
The tub and your local firing in a single day.
Might as well call it a fully cooked surf turkey.
Would I do it again?
It’s too damn easy, too anti-depressive and too much damn fun to rule out.
Resistance seems futile.
Building that thing at the airport was a stroke of genius from Andrew Ross.
A 24-hour FIFO surf trip to an artificial wave is the future, right now.