Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool for WSL World Tour?
The mill spins! The vine grows!
This one’s been swirling for a moment but I thought it important to wait until April Fool’s Day was well in the rearview. Stab has heard, and believes (see also: hopes), that currently, many moves are being made to add Kelly Slater’s wave pool to the Samsung Galaxy World Tour.
Let’s rewind briefly. On December 15 last year, Kelly rode the first wave of what some in the business might call the end game: A fast, hollow, walling, rideable, entirely man-made wave. In a body of water 110 miles from the coast. Watching Kelly slice off his first sample still chickens the skin. Revisit it above.
“Working on something for 10 years… I think it’s a big thing for surfing, if done the right way,” said Kelly of his synthesised lineup. “We wanted to make an elite level wave. Seeing that (first wave), I’m 100 percent positive that our team built the best wave that anyone’s ever made. It’s a freak of technology.”
He’s not wrong.
Here’s what the WSL’s Chris Mauro wrote about Kelly’s pool at the time of unveiling:
“What's so incredible about this wave? In a word: everything. Its power, shape, and face quality. Slater is repeatedly setting up shop in its hollow tube, and staying put for extended periods of time. The rides are 45 seconds long. The ramifications of this reveal are immeasurable at this point, but certainly will change the face of surfing as we know it. Much more to come on this...stay tuned.”
Speaking of the WSL; It isn’t difficult to join the dots here. The WSL’s transition into the superpower it is today has been because of the funds from ZoSea, the company who acquired the ASP back in 2013 before rebranding it to the WSL. You’ll recognise a few of the top names from ZoSea: Paul Speaker and Terry Hardy, backed by billionaire Dirk Ziff. Terry is also the director of the Kelly Slater Wave Company. And, Kelly's manager (as well as John Florence's). It all makes sense —> just follow the ca$h trail.
Anyhow, surely an “elite level” wave has a place on the elite tour? When asked by Stab to confirm or deny whether Kelly’s tech will appear on the WCT schedule, the WSL’s ever-charming Dave Prodan said:
“The WSL Commissioner's Office continues to work closely with all emerging wave pool technologies to determine what, if any, level of engagement is appropriate. That said, we are excited about the potential these technologies represent.”
Aren’t we all? Read into that what you will. Mr Prodan continued:
“As with any development to the technical part of the sport (venues, format, judging, etc.), an evolution or addition requires the Commissioner Office’s consideration and approval. With regards to the energy wave pool technology market, I’d imagine there would be extensive QC testing of any potential candidate by the commissioners themselves before any engagement would take place.”
Picture: Kieren Perrow, wearing white lab coat, sitting in a murky brown middle-American spin cycle, smiling to himself about the QC “testing” he’s doing and how good his job is.
Word is, Kelly’s current location has a limit of 20 people allowed onsite at any one time. Unless he can figure a way around that, it’s hard to imagine a second pool being built in time for a 2017 slot. So, despite Stab’s intel that the pool is locked for next year, 2018 is a more likely reality. Though, we’ve also heard there’s a litmus test planned with a smaller, more low-key event in summer (August).
Now, this won’t be for everyone. The core will undoubtedly shudder at all this. But for contest fans, it might just be a dream. And the surfers? Let’s ask a few if they’d wanna include Kelly’s wave as a tour stop…
Jordy Smith: “YES. By the looks, I love the idea of the equal opportunity. I’d love it to be a bit bigger, and also a bit warmer – from the video it looks pretty cold.”
Julian Wilson: “Nope. It looks soft. And, I have no idea how long you’ve gotta wait between waves.”
Ryan Callinan: “I would for sure. I think the fact that it’s the same every time you stand up and you know what’s going to happen, takes the luck out of it and the best surfers should win. I mean, they sometimes still wouldn’t, but this takes out a lot of factors that should bring out the better surfer more often.”
Josh Kerr: “Yes. What excites me about it? The level playing field. And, a new creative format.”
Either way, it’ll be as close to removing all subjectivity from competitive surfing as we’ve ever been; Especially if the WSL goes ahead with fitting all competition boards with Trace technology. An even playing field and measurable metrics? Isn’t that a foreign concept in this game! Now... how do we judge style?