Stab Magazine | Steph Gilmore Still Wears The Wavepool Best

'Vacation Presented By Monster Energy' Is Live Now


Steph Gilmore Still Wears The Wavepool Best

Tokyo is the pool’s next stop and more secrets from training day. 

news // May 6, 2018
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 4 minutes

After a staggeringly hot day in Lemoore, California, the Stab crew has either seen, heard, or in one case even smelled the juicy info that makes the Founders’ Cup tick. 

Frankly, the smell was probably just cow dung, but you might find some of our other findings more appealing:


ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 IMG 4136

700 yards of synthetic surfing.

Spectators, bring your binoculars and hats.

Arriving on the scene just before 8 AM, our crew was surprised to learn that the pool would not be lined with bleachers from end-to-end, but instead there’s a VIP area on the South side (complete with wicker rocking chairs and mahogany picnic tables), some V-VIP cabanas lining the southwestern wall of the pool, and then allllllll the way at the north end is one solitary stack of bleachers, which to my eye could hold around 2,000 guests. The rub is that due to their position at the far end of the pool, one will need binoculars to see most of the right while the left is completely out of view.

To mitigate this issue, there’s a Megatron about ⅓ of the way down the pool, which depending on your position in the bleachers, will be either very hard or impossible to see. All of which to say: if you don’t have a VIP ticket, you’ll either want to spend your day roaming the middle section of the pool (which has neither seats nor sun protection, but offers a closer view of the surfing and Megatron), or if you’re dead-set on watching this event on your bum, you’ll want to sit on the west side of the bleachers (to get the best megatron angle) and bring some damn binoculars (to watch the right).

No matter where you sit, you’ll want a hat. This sun is brutal.


ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 IMG 3992

Kelly Slater making the most of a soft left.

The wave ain’t perfect.

At least not all the time. I spent 30 minutes in the control tower today, speaking with the genius behind this engineering marvel, Mr. Adam Fincham, who with his team broke down the quality of every wave they created in front of me.

As we experienced at our media day last November, some of the waves at Kelly’s pool behave like ungrateful little children. Sitting where they’re supposed to stand, rolling where they’re supposed to run, etc.

After each wave, Fincham and his team compare the quality of the wave with its quantitative profile, which takes into consideration factors such as wind, water displacement, and hydrofoil settings at the time of launch.

Oddly enough, sometimes the exact same profile will produce a different end product, which has led Fincham to consider other outside forces, such as the remnants of ski wake. However, it’s clear that Kelly’s wavepool is still not a perfect science—meaning some surfers will inevitably receive short straws this weekend in terms of wave quality. Which isn’t any different from organic surfing contests, but it’s infinitely more annoying deus ex machina.

Just ask Morgan or Sam McIntosh, who to this day complain about their ”rolly righthander” or legitimate closeout, respectively, from back in November 2017.


ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 IMG 3465

The Queen.


Colton Tisch.

Stephanie Gilmore is the best surfer in the pool.

After watching 25 of the world’s best surfers attack the world’s most predictable wave for upwards of 10 hours, there was a clearly superior rider, and her name is Stephanie Gilmore.

There will be no gender caveat following that statement. 

It’s hard to put into words what exactly Steph does so well out here, but her combination of style, flow, and incomprehensible barrel-riding skills made her appear like an angel riding on a snowflake, which was slowly melting into the wave itself. No one connected with the artificial platform in a more organic fashion than Steph, essentially. 

A few years ago, Kelly Slater described the 6x Champ best:  “Steph surfs how you’re supposed to surf.” And it’s true! No matter where she is on the wave, or where she’s going, not a follicle of her being is out of place. 

In today’s press conference, Shaun Thomson asked Steph, “Considering you had the longest barrel at last year’s Future Classic, and seeing how far women’s surfing has come in recent years, would you ever be interested in going head-to-head, straight-up, against Kelly Slater?”.

After Steph’s tactful reply, Kelly chimed in with some playful sincerity.

“Don’t worry, that’s never gonna happen,” he smirked.  

A humble admission from the wave’s creator and most experienced rider, that if it ever came down to it, the result would likely not fall in his favor.


ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 IMG 3678

The team captains: Steph Gilmore, Adriano de Souza (filling in for Gabriel Medina, who was sick), Joanne Defay, Jordy Smith and Kelly Slater

Lemoore’s going to Tokyo!

This morning we had a brief but lovely meeting with Sophie Goldschmidt, who to our surprise was incredibly open about her intentions with the pool.

“There’s an idea floating around, that this event–which will use a nation-based model and be broadcast live around the globe–is being used to prove the wavepool’s worth in terms of competition, in an effort to sway the International Olympic Committee that Slater’s technology should be used in Tokyo 2020,” I explained. “On top of that, we’ve also heard from multiple sources that the WSL has been looking for, and perhaps even breaking ground on, land to built a Slater facility somewhere near Tokyo. What can you tell us about that?” *

“Well, yes, we are planning to build a pool in Tokyo with the hopes that it could be used in the 2020 Olympics.” Sophie revealed. “But we’re a long way out from that, and there are many hoops we’ll have to jump through before that’s possible.’

“We’ve been working with Fernando at the ISA, which is the governing body for surfing in the Olympics, to try and make it work, but there are no guarantees. That said, Japan, and the Asian market in general, will play an integral role in the expansion of this technology, so we’d be looking to build there regardless of the Olympics.”

*Ed. Note: This is actually how Michael speaks to others.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent


A Six-Minute Look At Shipstern’s Dangers And Delights

16-year-old Ned Hart begins his painful internship.

Apr 1, 2023

Authentic Brands Group Buys Boardriders For An Estimated $1.3 Billion 

Quiksilver, Billabong, and RVCA join Volcom under the same umbrella. What does that mean for…

Mar 31, 2023


There’s No Such Thing As An Unremarkable Hawaiian Winter

Allow the O'Neill team to explain.

Mar 31, 2023


Watch: ‘Vacation’ Presented By Monster Energy

Stab Highway winners visit Kandui Resort.

Mar 30, 2023

The Stab Interview: Shaun Manners

On signing with Former, landing the cover of Surfing World and TSJ, his Cult of…

Mar 30, 2023


Why You Should Never Not Paddle Out

How an impromptu 30 minute session made a Jamaican surfer $1,000 richer.

Mar 30, 2023


“I’ve Had Two Concussions Surfing Here”

Chronicles of a Newport shore-hound.

Mar 29, 2023

Rio Waida Has Been Surfing Onshore, Oversized Bells Alone

...and he might not go home all year.

Mar 29, 2023


John Florence Releases Long-Form Piece On The 243km Great Ocean Squiggle

Tourism Victoria going, ‘he just did our job for us’.

Mar 29, 2023


Japanese Rice Farmer Enjoys Frightening Sumatran West Bowls

Kaito Ohashi is on his best behavior.

Mar 28, 2023

Watch: When People Like This Speak, We Listen

Raw, extended conversations with Clyde Aikau and Eddie Aikau winner Luke Shepardson.

Mar 28, 2023


Diamond Tail = Diamond Hands?

We'll explain everything in the Rusty D-Min Joyride.

Mar 27, 2023

Behold Australia’s Nine & NZ’s Two Challenger Series Qualifiers*

May the Southern Cross smile upon you at Snapper.

Mar 27, 2023

An Unordinary Life Structured Around A Tidal Bore

Long Read: The life and times of Pete Beachy.

Mar 26, 2023


Watch: ‘Haiku’

Scenes From a Remote Reality, by Vans & Karina Rozunko

Mar 25, 2023

Sun Room: The Overnight Success Of A Young Surf Band

What's it like touring the world and living off of McDonald's?

Mar 25, 2023

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 6

An instructional manual for the modern professional surfer

Mar 23, 2023


Caity Simmers — Extreme Competitive Surf Vlogger

Cool is chemical.

Mar 23, 2023