The Question I Get Asked More Than Any Other
Letter From The Editor: I have been to the (Basque) Mountaintop, and I have seen the Miracle in the Central Valley!
Yeezuz it’s cold this AM in Los Angeles, my Northern Grit gone powder soft as the temperature drops below 60. We’re still waiting for this cold bitch of a winter to give up the ghost.
Meanwhile, news from our Australian brethren has us all talking about wavepools again, with the Sydney boys gently taking URBNSURF’s Andrew Ross by his broad shoulders, sitting him down in a dark corner and getting the details on the wave pool breaking ground next week in Melbourne.
The news was met much the same as every Wave Pool Announcement is these days.
“Now this is amazing news , as now surfers from Melbourne won’t have to come to the Coast anymore and if we have no surf on the weekends , we can become the reverse weekend warriors …..”—says MC Brutus:
“This is great, now all the Melbos can piss off inland and call themselves local there.” – The Dog You Ate In Kuta barks
“2 metre or a solid 3-4 foot hahahhaha, ahhhhhh get fucked. That is two foot you peanuts.” – growls Dogsnuts.
It ain’t a secret why the general surfing public roll their pterygium-laden eyes these days when Wave Pool Press Releases come through their surf feeds. The wave pools currently open to the public leave much to be desired, and the cowboy hats and barbecue does not an Austin surf trip make.
Now, set aside the question of which company will end up triumphant in this Space Race to a freshwater future. It’s not going to be a question of either/or. There’s no winner take all scenario here. If any of these pools can figure out a way to bring a proper wave to market, it’s on.
Ashy Goggles struggling to believe his eyes. The Cove prototype, April, 2017.
See, I have seen the green hills and blue rivers; I have been to the (Basque) Mountain Top, and drank deeply from the freshwater dream.
And I have made the pilgrimage to the Great Miracle in the Central Valley, and reveled in it’s cold, artificial embrace.
The question I get asked most these days, having surfed The Cove in the Basque Country and Kelly’s Wave in Lemoore, is: which one’s “better.”
Which you’d think would be an easy enough question to answer.
Kelly’s Wave is many of the cliches you’ve heard—a freak of nature, a technological marvel, etc.—and I won’t bore you heaping praise on the pile.
But it’s also slow, the whole experience takes forever. Five minutes between waves, four waves in an hour—the pressure’s unnerving, that taste of tin stuck in the roof of your mouth as you slip into what is admittedly a crisp, deliciously round little barrel. The scarcity and interval between waves also creates an uncomfortable dynamic in the water, where a Wave Pool should be only a five-person amp fest.
While I was lucky enough to scrap more than my fair share of waves, my gluttony came at the expense of many a friend’s meager serving. Imagine the car ride home, with five of your best friends, after a session at a private, indescribably perfect four-foot sandbank point, and two of you got eight waves and ripped the bag out of three or four, and three of you got four waves and blew all of them…
A pregnant silence indeed, my friends.
Though I truly hope everyone of you has the opportunity to get even just one of Kelly’s Lemoore marvels, if the opportunity presented itself today, to gather a posse of friends for a Pool Day adventure, we’d be over the Atlantic already, headed for Bilbao…
A month before its unveiling last summer, I had a pintxo slapped out of my hand in the competitor’s area of the Zarautz Pro in the Basque Country, and was swiftly whisked from the contest site, thrown in a European Station Wagon, and hurtled towards the Cantabrians and an unknown fate. Arriving to what looked like a testing site, or a guerilla outpost for Basque Separatists nestled low in a deep mountain valley. I was pushed forward, around a large building from which a noise was emanating, a great groaning like some massive metal creature yawning, and as I rounded the corner, I was met by a pool of bright, crystalline water, and in it four children frolicking. This was The Cove.
The machine’s yawn sent forth a pulse from the pool’s corner, a wedge standing up along the pool’s northern wall. Young Mateus Herdy stood up under the lip’s soft chandelier; coming out of the little pit he knifed a beautiful roundhouse, bounced off the whitewater and threw a tail-high reverse as the wave threw one last little section at him before dying in the pool’s shallows.
The feeling recalled the very first time I stepped through the threshold of Skatepark of Tampa in the early-90s, terrified and thrilled and overwhelmed at the scene, the ripe energy of a session going down. Watching Mateus teach three little Basque prodigies how to air reverses, after like fifteen minutes in the pool trading wave, after wave, after wave… it recalled little skate rats teaching each other frontside disasters on a mini ramp.
For the next few hours a man queued up waves on two laptop computers like a DJ, selecting tracks representing different wave types from one folder on one computer, and dragging them onto another controlling The Cove’s Basque-engineered wave generating system. I was offered details: the machine uses a tremendous amount of force, but requires little movement nor energy. The device moves less than an inch, and is capable of creating a wave every eight seconds, at a cost of around ten cents a wave, 1,000 waves-an-hour, and limited in length and size only by the size of machine they are contracted to build, and the size of the pool in which that can stick that bad boy.
When the public will see a consumer model from Kelly Slater Wave Co. is anyone’s guess. With The Cove breaking ground in Melbourne next week—and several more set to do the same very soon in Barcelona, Madrid, Costa del Sol, Edinburgh, Bristol, London, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, New York, Miami, Santiago, Marrakesh, and Tel Aviv—hopefully the question we’ll be asking w/r/t wave pools won’t be answered in an either/or scenario.
I want to believe, that we’re on the eve of a Both/And Era, a divergent surfing future with choice and agency, though not exactly Free Will, and that’s something you should be very excited about.
Oh, how this winter flat spell has made time crawl. Seems like ages ago that we found out the Pipe Masters won’t run in 2019. In the week since, we saw the Gold Coast go bonkers, with Kirra seeing three days of full blown chaos, jet ski SNAFUs, a broken spine, and not a few massive, spitting beasts exploding up and down the hallowed sandbars. Jake Embrey aka Noa’s Last Speed Bump chatted with iHusky about the Seadoo-stirred shitstorm brewin’…
Michael C. wants us all to be part-time water photogs. You wouldn’t believe how many shots of the guy standing in two-foot closeouts we have to see.
Marcus Paladino and Pete Devries want you to know that there aren’t bears running around terrorizing people in the PNW, except when there are.
Craig Jarvis revealed new outlets for WSL surfers to report fellow competitors hitting the juice, while French-born, Bali-livin’ lovely Ana made the case for a steady diet of fresh coconut and sand points.
Kyle Buthman delivered another sincere portrait, of LBC photog Robb Wilson; our friend Steven Allain made the case for sexy digital Brazilian rag, Moist; and while the Sydney crew has been on the road in West Oz with Harry Bryant and Summer Bright, we’ve had The Jim Mitchell’s new record on heavy rotation.
Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab.
Ashy Gaggins, Editor in Chief
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