"When Kelly thinks about what is being done in his name and looks in the mirror, does he still see an environmentalist looking back at him?"
Ever since the looming Jeep Surf Ranch Pro stuck its head around the corner, sick notes and reasons of absence forms have been hitting WSL email addresses with the relentlessness of Qassam rockets bound for Ashkelon.
Julian Wilson, wanted to think about the Olympics for six weeks and there ain’t no chance he’s decamping to Tachi Palace and surfing the tank.
Jordy Smith, out, knee injury, although the six-three beast is no fan of the pool, says it’s “predictable” and “really not that exciting to the viewers after watching the tenth surfer go back into the barrel for another ten seconds.”
John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Michel Bourez and gals Tyler Wright, Lakey Peterson, Bronte Macaulay, Macy Callaghan.
Brazil used to be the black sheep of the tour, injuries, apparently catastrophic before the contest repairing magically soon after.
After last year’s event, BeachGrit’s tour reporter Steve “Longtom” Shearer, jerkerd awake long enough to pull his head out of his pretzel bowl and write,
We’re five years into this thing now.
Five long years.
The gap between the rhetoric, that tubs were going to loose a tsunami of radical innovative surfing, and the reality, conservative surfing, is becoming clearer every day. It’s become what Orwell termed the “inadmissible fact.” It’s put us in upside down world, where Chris Cote, when he hears the train says, “ This never gets old” means “there’s something deeply wrong here but I can’t dare acknowledge it”.
Can someone on the pro wavepool side of the argument explain to me why, given the basic repeatability of the wave, some new trick is not conceived, mastered and then executed to a stunned judging panel ala vert skating or snowboard half-pipe?
Wasn’t that the whole point?
On a recent post featuring the seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore at the tank, WSL fans wrote,
Snooze. Throw in the air section.
Most uninteresting event on tour. Every time I see this wave I keep scrolling.
Good for training, horrible for contest. RIP WSL.
Same commentary on every wave… stick to mother ocean.
And so on.
It’ll be six years, this December, when Kelly unveiled the tank, a miracle of technology and vision, a wave so perfect most thought it was a prank. Better than anything before it or, if flawless points are your thing, since.
It would be the lavishly tanned eleven-time world champ’s final legacy; his gift to surfing, a facsimile of Little Marley, the draining sandbottom right-hander that runs across Rainbow Bay.
And here we are, 2021, years after Kelly sold the biz to the WSL and besides the Lemoore prototype not a single Slater pool has been built.
The Israeli-German-Basque Wavegarden tech has flourished, fully functioning commercial pools in Melbourne, Switzerland, England, Brazil.
American Wave Machines has Texas and Japan tanks, more to follow.
Same with Tommy Lochtefeld’s Surf Loch, one under construction in Palm Springs, a few privates kicking around, more coming.
City Wave, the German bidder of stationary pools, notably represented by Shane Beschen in the US, has ‘em indoors, outdoors, in the US, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Russia and Israel.
The closest a Slater pool has to its first commercial pool is a $1.2 billion development on on 510-hectares, or 1200 acres, of “highly constrained land” near the Queensland beach town of Coolum. The proposal includes a Surf Ranch wrapped in a 20,000-person stadium, a six-star eco-resort, restaurants, bars, a retail village and “an environmental education centre based on the site’s wetlands and nearby waterways.”
The WSL’s Andrew Stark said the local surfing community was “ecstatic and excited.”
It’s as far away from being built in 2021 as it was two years ago,
I sent Longtom to investigate in 2019.
I put boots on the ground at the site. I know this country very well. It’s in my blood. My people come from the Queensland cane swamps. They are Danes, Swedes, Sicilians.
They would understand the necessity of bulldozing the bush to make way for jobs. But I do not. The developer’s eye eludes me. I see trees and bush. Birds, insects, frogs. I feel sad that surfers will be the ones behind the bull-dozers, erasing this wildlife, this bush from history.
From what I can see though, although there is ambivalence, distrust and even hostility to the Coolum wave pool development, that is unlikely to stop the bulldozers.
The greenwashing on the project will be immense. Next level.
But I wonder, when Kelly thinks about what is being done in his name and looks in the mirror, does he still see an environmentalist looking back at him?
From a miracle conjured out of nowhere and greeted with universal acclaim to the tour’s most hated event and a wavepool tech used nowhere.
The Jeep Surf Ranch Pro starts this Friday and runs through Sunday.