"There was room for error on the wave yet it still had power and a heavy barrel," writes Strider Wasilewski.
The world’s greatest athlete and, rapidly, one its most opportunistic businessmen, Kelly Slater, has brought a cavalcade of surfing champions to his eponymous wave pool in the Persian Gulf.
Two days ago, Kelly Slater drew back the curtain on the luscious bluewater wave, only the second of its kind ever, on the new gussied-up version of Hudayriyat Island in Abu Dhabi.
Yesterday, the small-wave wizard Filipe Toledo, no lover of Teahupoo it’s true but the greatest ever in waves that ascend to the waist but not beyond, showed his “adult” and “barbaric turns” at the tank.
And, today, it can be revealed, he wasn’t the only surfing superstar to be invited to its unveiling.
The procession of stars included WSL in-water commentator Strider Wasilewski, noted for “attack dog tits”, three-time world champion Gabriel Medina, eight-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore, Caroline Marks, Jeremy Flores, “Human Viagra” Raimana Van Bastolaer, iconic filmmaker Taylor Steele, along with Kelly Slater’s former personal assistant Stephen “Belly” Bell.
Wasilewski’s take on the Kelly Slater pool is instructive.
“There was room for error on the wave yet it still had power and a heavy barrel,” writes Strider. “The transitions and contour of the wave lend to your attack on it and the toob… The toob sections don’t chase you down, they lift you up and carry you forward. You can play on the foam ball of the toob and your heart races while it happens. Who knew, what’s next, WTF!”
The popular commentator drew myriad comments from fans including the once-Democratic hopeful and surfer Tulsi Gabbard.
“And the left,” wrote Gabbard, leaving a love heart emoji.
“A world class wave in the UAE! Thank you for making us feel incredibly welcome and congratulations for bringing the project to life!” wrote Stephanie Gilmore.
It’s been almost a decade since Slater unveiled his man-made miracle to the world in the American winer of 2015, and the day after the Brazilian surfer, Adriano De Souza, with whom he’d engaged with in a long-running blood feud had just won the world title.
The tank is part of a 51 million square metre development of the island that’ll add fifty-three clicks of coastline to the city, with attractions including a velodrome with a roof-top track, 220km of bike trails, a giant urban park, high-end residential communities built on two different hills affording 360-degree views of this paradise on the Persian Gulf.
Controversy has dogged the pool, however, with surfers swarming various Instagram pages. The argument, if it can be called such, is the Kelly Slater pool represents a cruel absurdity, with some even linking it to Gaza’s invasion of Israel.
(The UAE ain’t afraid to loose the hounds on its brother Muslims: “The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes, tortured detainees, raped civilians and used child soldiers as young as 8,” reports the NY Times.)
A popular refrain,
I guess building pools is his gig now. This is not going to end well for his career. All of that hard work and building his reputation to throw it out for a stupid pool where Women, Gays, and the Lower class people are treated with 1400’s year old le laws. Nice going Kelly. This time you out did yourself.
Gotta love it when that Middle Eastern money spigot pours in your direction and far away from the stupid environmental regulations of Australia and USA, Queensland, Coachella and Florida, all promised superb versions of the pool but were scuttled by pressure from community groups.