Stab Magazine | Game Done Changed

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Game Done Changed

Takeaways From #TheTest At Kelly’s Wave Pool

news // Sep 27, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Surfing done changed.

One hundred and fifty dusty miles away from the ocean, there was a gathering like nothing we’d ever seen. The (grand)fathers of professional surfing were there, so were some of the “sport’s” current greats. There were CEOs and men in suits, mechanical engineers and bearded journalists sweating off their hangovers in the forbidden perch of a cherry picker. There was the world’s greatest man-made wave. There was a contest.

By now, you’ve already seen everything you need to see from The Test — but have you processed it? Have you settled into your stubborn corner, thinking about what happened in Lemoore? Have you felt all your feels?

And hopefully, some truth in these, too: here are some takeaways from the first ever WSL event at a wave pool.

Professional surfing lacks originality.

Surfing used to be an outlet for originality. People would see different things in waves and act on what they saw. Actually, I thought that’s how it still worked. And I thought the wave pool would exemplify that.

But then… nah. Everybody looked exactly the same out there. Turn, barrel, turn, barrel, maybe try an air at the end (and not land it unless your name is Filipe).

A chlorinated canvas could and should allow for the most creative surfing we’ve ever seen. But, so far, it’s only moved closer to a gymnastic routine.

Other wave pools are in trouble.

Other wave pool companies show promise — looking at you, Greg Weber. But the one thing that Kelly has (besides 11 World Titles, a distaste for flat-earthers and the name Kelly Slater) is his connections. He’s got the best surfers in the world in one pocket, and the WSL in the other. That — more than the actual technology — will have the biggest impact on the wave pool arms race.

If you think about the Wave Garden, it was a power play for Kelly to name his place the Surf Ranch. Ranchers wear flannels and operate commercial machinery and understand Darwinism. Gardeners own twin fins and have soft uncalloused hands. They smell of tulips and manure.

Point, Slater.

It’s time to get real with the scoring.

We baited Albee Layer on Instagram, after Filipe Toledo got a near-perfect XX. Was it really only possible to surf that wave .2% better?

Hell no!

When Albee bit, he brought up a good point — if you get the best wave of the day, you get the best wave of the day and that should be an honor. Why does it matter if they only call it a 7?

Maybe wave pools will get the judges to stop calling everything a 9 for the heat views.

We need to decide when it becomes “cheating.”

What if they built an air section and compliment it with a giant fan to create air wind? Would that make it cheating? Wait, is it already cheating? If someone lands a 720 — a real one, not the kind that snowboarders keep telling us about — will it count?

People compare wave pools to skateparks; maybe they’re more like foam pits?Surfing collectively needs to decide if an asterisk is required for everything that happens in a pool.

Our culture will change.

For better. For worse. For both. This is not the most exciting time in history to be a surfer — shit was probably way more fun when waves were uncrowded and everybody went around eating drugs and having sex all over the place.

But still, it feels like we’re in an age of innovation and a lot of things are shifting. Maybe it’ll all come crashing down! Maybe surfing will become generic! There’s no way to be sure. But the ocean ain’t going anywhere (science even says it’s getting bigger).

Won’t it be fun to watch it all unfold?


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