Stab Magazine | Will Wave Pools Actually Work?
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Will Wave Pools Actually Work?

And if so, how?

news // May 27, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Discluding every other WSL, ASP or ISP contest, as well as any air show, board demo, ceremonial paddle out and Byron Bay drum circle, the 2017 Oi Rio Pro was one of the greatest events in the history of surfing.

It ended last week, but the memories live forever or at least until Fiji. I found it interesting that the Wavegarden unveiled their best wave, The Cove, just as the worst event on the CT schedule was kicking off. Almost like they were hoping for a comparison. Fine. I’ll bite.

– One is an expensive science project.
– The other is a beachbreak.

I’d love to surf both. Wouldn’t sacrifice all that much to surf either. I tried convincing myself that I’d rather surf Rio than a pool — then realized that was a lie.

Unpredictability was the foundation of the lie. I once spoke with a neuroscientist who surfed and asked him why, from a medical standpoint, we get so much satisfaction out of sliding around the ocean on floatation devices. He explained that brains are prediction machines. They make predictions in every moment and woo us with endorphins every time they do shit right. The ocean, with its ever-evolving conditions, is a constant equation and the brain tries to predict what’ll happen within it — ie: get you in the spot for a good wave and proceed to read that wave well so you can surf it well. Then boom, endorphins. Biochemically, this process is easier than your body producing that amount of the hormone on its own so it tells you to keep doing it and essentially addicts you to surfing. Like blow!

https://player.vimeo.com/video/215316114

That doesn’t exist in a wavepool (outside of Columbia). There are only so many endorphins to be had in correctly predicting that some kid pissed in the water. Still, I’d take it over Rio because I’ve never surfed a wavepool before. I have, however, tried a FlowRider, surfed behind a boat and gotten drunk at a water park. I have a feeling a wavepool would be like a combination of those three things.

Which means it’ll be awesome. For a day or two.

I can’t envision a future in which wavepools actually work — what’s the endgame? Who’s going to keep those fuckers chlorinated? Surfers who live in landlocked cities? Hardly a thing. Surfers plagued by a flat spell? That’s when you’re supposed to do normal person things. People who have never surfed before? If history has taught us anything, it’s that they will someday crave the renowned conditions of Oahu’s North Shore.

In the future I see, the first two of those parties will patronise pools mildly and the third goes hard. It’ll spawn a supernova generation of chlorine swine — a decade or so of rich kids with greenish-blonde hair and poor skin who will land shit that has never before been done on a wave. We’ll steal some of their board designs and repertoire, then apply it to surfing. You know, like, actual surfing.

It’ll be great for sport. And even better training for Rio. Bring it on.

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