Stab Magazine | The Only Man To Turn Down A Kelly Slater Wave Pool Invitation

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The Only Man To Turn Down A Kelly Slater Wave Pool Invitation

With sound reasoning! Plus: Why you won’t see a World Tour event in Lemoore any time soon.

news // Jul 27, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Now that the initial euphoria has worn off around the KS wavepool, some interesting rumours have surfaced about that shitty but pretty piece of water in Lemoore. The WSL are very tight lipped on releasing anything concrete so this is an article that actually provides more questions than answers but right now, it’s as good as we’ve got.

If you want to buy one, it will cost you $25m. Yup, that’s in USD obviously. And, that’s before you’ve acquired the space to house the thing. They’re some deep pockets you’ll need considering a wave breaks every eight to 14 minutes (more about that later). And, for some crude back-of-the-envelope mathematics, if seven or eight waves are generated every hour and the pool runs for 12 hours a day, that’s roughly 90 waves a day. If the price per wave is $50 a wave it’s $4500 per day in revenue, or about $1.6m a year. There’s always the fact that those waves can be ridden by beginners in close who don’t need the peeling wave but the economics are difficult to decipher. However, we’re in both media and the surf industry so it’s obvious there’s no real business acumen here in these four walls.

travis logie joli TQ16542 Main

Mr Logie is impressed as anyone by Kelly’s wave. But, he wasn’t gonna spend a full third of his window between OS trips sitting in a car, only to line up and then try to figure the thing out backside. Now, if the pool pumped out blue, eight-foot Chopesian caverns like this…

Photography

Joli

We only ever care about who was first and like Taj Burrow, who turned down a spot on the world tour way back in the day, Trav Logie joins a world-first list when it comes to Kelly’s wave. The WSL’s WQS commissioner is the first surfer in the world who has turned down an invitation to surf the wave. Trav was invited on one of the opening days when Josh Kerr and Steph Gilmore danced across the robotic right. In his defence, it turns out Trav was between OS trips and had less than 24 hours downtime between events in LA, not wanting to drive the eight-hour round trip. And, anecdotal evidence would suggest that he’d be the last in line to ride a wave. So, he stayed put. Regardless, the title is still his: He said no to the most prestigious invitation in surfing (let’s be honest, none of us really want an invitation to The Eddie). Says Kelly: “Two days after I put it online, when it had soaked in a little bit, I got hundreds – if not more – of requests, from friends and people I didn’t know, to surf the thing.” Guess who wasn’t one of ‘em? Dear Trav! Maybe if it were a left, then Trav would’ve done the eight-hour round trip.

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The slickest oil, that only comes after an overnight rest.

Speaking of the pool, notice how some waves are bumpy while others are super clean? And, waves Kelly are riding are pure sheet glass as if crafted by the hand of god? There’s a reason behind that. If you’ve ever surfed in a wave pool, whether it’s the Canaries or Kuala Lumpur, you’ll know that it’s always about that first wave of the day. That kind of stillness takes a very long time to reform. Much like a backyard swimming pool, it takes a long time to lose any bump after first diving in. Not a few minutes, not even an hour, an entire evening of stillness. Imagine then, the amount of power it takes to create a wave. The bumpy waves you might have seen in the pool videos (think: Josh Kerr, Nat Young or Gabs Medina) are when you wait only eight minutes from the previous wave. To get a cleaner wave you need to wait 14 minutes. Even then, it’s not sheet glass. So, what about the waves that Kelly rides? Apparently, the first wave of every day has to be ridden by Kelly Slater. When Steph and Josh and co went to the pool, Kelly was a few hours behind after being stuck in traffic. Rather than get into shredding in the pool, the group had to wait until Kelly arrived so he could ride the first wave. As they should – he spent 10 years developing the thing.

There’s been a lot of talk about Olympics and world tour events and apples v apples opportunities that the pool provides unlike the ocean. After riding 15 waves at the pool over two days a few weeks back, the World Tour commissioner Kieren Perrow said that while the pool is wonderful for the sport, in its current form it isn’t good enough for a world tour event in the near future. “It has more energy and power than I expected and this technology holds a lot of potential for the future development of surfers just starting out and those already competing on our Championship Tour,” said Kieren. That means that 2017 will have no man-made waves on tour. Kieren is a man known for his decisive and definitive calls and was apparently quick to rule that it needs more before he’ll send the top 32 into the pool in jerseys.

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Contestable? Shit, they’ve run Rio in worse. Ha!

Kelly counters: “To have a repeatable, comparing apples to apples kinda competition, where it’s more of an objective thing and less subjective, I think this (wave pool) is the way to do it. I think we could create a wave of high enough quality to make the playing field totally fair for people. I think that we could hold competition (in the pool)… I don’t even think we’re going to, I know we’re going to hold competitions in the pool at some point. Maybe exhibitionary sort of things at the start.”

Guess we’ll see.

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