Soft Top Wielding Gladiators Take Over Texas - Stab Mag
Kaikea Elias. Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Soft Top Wielding Gladiators Take Over Texas

The Red Bull Foam Wreckers Tour kicks off at BSR.

Words by Jack Mutschler

I’ve heard many tales of this beast and its distinct roar. It was a mechanical growl that shook the colorless dirt of the 400-acre property.

Of course, when I arrived, it had stirred into more of a slush, given the heavy rains from the night before. It was my first visit to the barren town of Waco, Texas—a place where local advertisements are for either square or round bales of hay.

I exited my rental chariot, which now a sported a grey splatter on its lower half, and shuffled towards the BSR cable park wave pool. With each dragging step, the distant voice on the PA became clearer. The thumping from the armored DJ booth intensified, letting me know that the party was already shifting gears.

A different kind of mechanical bull.

I’d arrived just in time for the Red Bull Foam Wreckers event. The arena for the gathering was a sizeable chlorinated lake, backed up against a solid slab of concrete. According to BSR Chief Operating Officer Dave Likens, the beast is comprised of “24 ten-foot-wide air chambers,” all of which worked toward the same goal. The still water gets sucked down into the folds of the earth before lashing back out in multiple directions, some more favorably than others.

The brave warriors in attendance awaited orders at the concrete shoreline, dressed in unorthodox battle gear. Stitch, the Blues Brothers, and some guy disguised as Eric Koston crowded a grand wheel, waiting for their mystery blade of fate’s choice.

The sword options we’re flashy yet dull: Soft tops, ranging from size log to boog, courtesy of the blacksmiths at Catch Surf. The neon glow from the boards offset the day’s grey backdrop and provided some much-needed luminescence. The sun was not going to show, and the light rain served as our reminder.

The battlegrounds.
Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Once the wheel had spoken, the modern-day Spartans grabbed their destined swords and darted towards the rattling of the beast’s chains. The horns blew, and all 24 latches were unlocked.

Blades flew across the water’s surface, and daggers shot out the back of sets. Oohs and ahh’s echoed from the bleachers.

Who were these fighters? Had they not been trained properly? These were no gladiators. These were simpletons. Common folk, like you and I, having a go at the sudden shelves with merciless equipment. What they lacked in perfectly timed aerials, they salvaged with smiles and laughter. They refused to acknowledge the taunting of that wretched monster. How could this be? Aren’t surf contests supposed to be serious?

Ok maybe some had battle experience. I think Jacob Szekely is allergic to falling.
Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Even the renowned gladiators: Robb of Kalani, Conklin of Blair, and O’briens Jamie shared a grin from their tower of judgment. Their laughter reverberated as competitors jousted on the so-called “Freak Peak.”

“Why this?” I asked the great Ben of Gravy.

“I don’t know. Compared to a normal contest format, this is more fun,” he answered.

It’s all gravy baby.
Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Fun, plain and simple. Act as cool and unimpressed with surfing as you wish, but every wave is an opportunity, same as normal life events on land. It’s an opportunity to be miserable, obsess over minor flaws, and lash out those around you. Or it’s a chance to enjoy your surroundings. Embrace that shoulder-hopper with open arms, and let the board floating on the inside serve as a new landing rather than an obstacle.

While I admit my attention for surf-related outputs usually gravitates toward more serious projects (like this, for example), I understand the benefits of an event like Red Bull Foam Wreckers.

Micah Gore and Serena Nava taking advantage of the “no priority” rule.
Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Surfing is only surfing, and it’s healthy to step back and laugh at it sometimes. It seems too often we forget to enjoy our session and slowly become the grumpy older man who owns every set near the pier. I can assure you that on this day, amid sub-par weather and limited solo rides, there were no cranky outbursts. There were no palms up, no arguments over priority, and no profanities (per BSR wave pool rules).

This was only the first stop of what is looking to be a successful tour of the US. If you live within driving distance of any of the future foam-wrecking events, go. Grab some friends, pile into your trusted chariot, and make the voyage. Dress up like a pilgrims, or pirates, or the mascots of a gas station chain, and go. Fight your way to the realm of enlightenment and slay great cylindrical creatures with nothing but a hot pink sword made of foam.

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