Stab Podcast: The Wavepool Event Didn't Need to Happen - Stab Mag
Photo by WSL/Jackson Van Kerk

Stab Podcast: The Wavepool Event Didn’t Need to Happen

A love letter to mother nature.

stabfm // Jun 25, 2021
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bobby Martinez warned us about this. All the way back in 2011, mind you, but never has it been closer to realization than today.

The goddamned tennis tour.

As alluded to in a recent episode of The Drop (Stab’s other, red-headed step-child of a podcast), we’re not exactly sure what aspect of the ASP’s (then-)new qualification system Bobby was comparing to professional tennis. However, the advent of modern wavepools has perhaps revealed Bobby’s true meaning — a prescient one at that — which is that by removing surfing’s natural variables (swell, tide, wave selection, etc.), you end up with a tour where the same surfers win the same events over and over again with the same monotonous maneuvers.

Just like tennis.

We recently witnessed the conclusion of the 2021 Surf Ranch Pro, hosted at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA. For the third consecutive year, the same two male surfers finished first and second in the event*.

Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina are statistically indomitable in the pool. The numbers don’t lie, and more importantly, they reflect exactly what we’re seeing with our own subjective eyeballs. These two surf faster, stronger, more confidently, and better in both directions than their peers, making them impossible to beat when there are no outside factors (swell, tide, wave selection, etc.) involved.

That’s amazing for them, and it’s fine for viewers as well, but it makes the rest of the event more or less redundant…just like the first few days of a major tennis tournament. We all want to see Djokovic vs Nadal — why should we have to watch Pauly Shamrock and Steve Zinkewitz play slap-ass for a week just to get there?

I’ve long been a proponent of one wavepool event on the tour. That opinion is not changing today. I just want to ensure that the number stays capped there. One totally predictable event is all surfing can survive.

And frankly, Filipe and Gab should be seeded directly into the final of next year’s event so that we can skip the froth and sip on straight cream.

Listen to the latest Stab CUSP ep above, or on Spotify, Apple Pods, Souncloud etc. “Stab Podcasts” should get you there.

*Ironically, a run of this nature hasn’t happened since the same year of Bobby’s tennis tour speech, when Owen Wright and K Slates went back-to-back-to-back in CT finals — although that was in the same season at a variety of waves (beach break, pointbreak, reef break), not the same event across multiple seasons.


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