Stab Magazine | The WSL Buys Kelly Slater's Wave Pool Company

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The WSL Buys Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool Company

“It will democratise surfing,” says Kelly.

news // May 24, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

WSL Holdings, the parent company of the World Surf League, have just purchased Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool.

Sorry, sorry; They’ve announced an agreement in principle to acquire a majority stake in the Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC).

We’d heard rumblings about this; We knew that WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow went and sampled the wave pool recently, riding 15 waves over two days. “When I did (ride Kelly’s wave), I was blown away by the experience,” says Kieren. “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.”

This could only suggest the WSL were taking great interest in the pool, and the assumption made (by us!) was that Kieren was there on a scouting mission for a potential new World Tour event. And while that’s still very much on the cards (well, more so now), in the meantime the Pool will serve as a training ground for world tour athletes and… the basis for franchise!

“KSWC’s revolutionary technology creates a number of possibilities for the future of the sport,” says the press release. “The WSL and the KSWC envision the build-out of a global network of WSL-branded high-performance training centres utilising this wave technology.”

Future Surfing. Photo Credit. Todd Glaser

Did Kelly seriously just get even more rich? Maybe. Yes.


Todd Glaser / KSWC

Kelly, obviously, is over the moon that his 10-year passion project has not only come to fruition, but has also now had the majority purchased for what I can only assume would be, in technical terms, a fuck ton of cheddar (no financial details have been disclosed).

“While surfing for me will always be about adventure, travel and the ocean, this wave brings a new opportunity to the sport without taking away the soulfulness that attracted many of us to surfing in first place,” says Kelly. “Surfing great waves in a controlled environment adds a new dimension, as there is no hassling for waves, no stress over who got the best wave – they are all good. Everyone can relax, have fun and focus on improving their surfing.”

“It’s beyond my dreams that this wave will be a canvas for the global advancement of this great sport in partnership with the WSL,” he added. “It will democratise surfing and provide incredible training opportunities for athletes as well as aspirational surfers in areas with no ocean waves.”

Now, let’s briefly hear from WSL CEO, Paul Speaker: “We do believe that all stakeholders – athletes, fans, broadcast and corporate partners – will be super energised by the advent of Championship Tour-level competition with man-made waves. But the ocean will always be our home, and the great waves on our tour will always remain the backbone of our competitive schedule.”

The Green Room. Photo Credit. Todd Glaser

Don’t stare too hard, you’ll get lost in there.


Todd Glaser / KSWC

And, the real kicker: “No firm plans have been made for the inclusion of a man-made wave-based competition. We will be evaluating all the possibilities in the coming months with the Commissioners’ Office and the WSL athletes.”

Why so much emphasis on the whole no-Tour-events-yet deal? Because the obvious assumption in light of this announcement is that a Tour event in the pool is a certainty, post-acquisition. But the defining message from the WSL on this – which is actually commendable – is that the ocean remains the sport’s primary platform, and will continue to as the tech evolves.

Good news? We’re in for a whole lot of new footage featuring World Tour surfers testing the pool.

We’ve also been told to expect more announcements in the coming weeks, so… don’t lose faith in the first-ever World Tour event to take place 110 miles from the coast just yet.


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