Stab Magazine | So You're Going To The Founders' Cup...

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So You’re Going To The Founders’ Cup…

Tips for navigating inland California’s biggest event of the season (Coachella be damned).

style // Apr 26, 2018
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

So you’re going to the Founders’ Cup?

Lucky you! As the first publicly accessible event at Kelly Slater’s Wavepool, the Founders’ Cup will be a drastically important moment in the history of surfing. From this point forward, wavepool events will define the “new era” of the sport, changing both the competitive and leisurely aspects of surfing for the remainder of humankind.  

And you’ll be there to see it all unfold! 

Now, to help those unacquainted with Lemoore to get the most out of their Founders’ Cup experience, we’ve come up with a few helpful tips for navigating inland California’s biggest event of… ever.

Coachella be damned…

1. Must bring nose-plugs, bug spray

COSE news standard 4

Perfect for the pool!

In this literal cowtown, there’s what one might call an inordinate amount of animal shit on the farms surrounding Surf Ranch. You start to smell it about 30 minutes outside of Lemoore, and it follows you almost all the way to the wooden gates. Depending on the wind direction during the days of competition, this overwhelming stench may never leave your unassuming noseholes.

If you’re lucky, the prevailing northwest gales will mask the poo with scents of corn and hay, but there’s always the chance of getting hit by the “Stinky Southerlies”, in which case you’ll want to be prepared.

Nose-plugs, or at the very least one of those nerdy nostril pinchers, are a recommended addition to your travel pack.  

A few dozen cans of bug spray won’t hurt either.

On top of adoring all the cow poop, Lemoore’s extensive bug population also has a stagnant lake (directly adjacent to the wavepool) and a post-winter crop explosion to aid their potency, meaning that the blood-sucking skeeters will be out in full force during this event.

Off! and swatters recommended. 

2. Accommodation ain’t easy


Could be you.

Pretty much as soon as the WSL released its Founders’ Cup dates, all of Lemoore’s hotels, motels, inns, and AirBnBs were booked by surfers and fans alike. The first to go was (naturally) the Tachi Palace, which is home to a wonderfully disgusting casino and an assortment of subpar dining options, followed quickly by the local Travelodge and Motel 6.

Womp womp womp.

But don’t fret! If you, like us, are still without a place to stay during the 2018 Founders’ Cup, there are a few more obscure options one might consider.

  • Trailer park boys: Literally right across the street from the Surf Ranch is a trailer park. Not to stereotype, but I’m guessing you could roll up with a 30-pack of PBRs and convince one the tenants to let you park on their dirt lot for a couple of nights while the event is running. While you’ll lose the comforts of a bed, shower, and 24-hour slot machine, you’ll be first in line to the event, giving you the ultimate seating options (more on that later).

  • Squatting: Wait for nightfall, find a field, pitch a tent, and pray that some angry farmer with a shotgun and missing tooth doesn’t wake up before you. There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of gridlike land swaths surrounding the event site (including an abandoned golf course right next to it), which if vetted properly could provide an idyllic sleeping arrangement.

  • No sleep: Surf Ranch all day, casino all night. People do it in Vegas, why not Lemoore? With a little will and a lot of cocaine, anything is possible.

3. Seating theories

Screen Shot 2018 04 23 at 3.06.13 PM

Actual future photo from Founders’ Cup 2018.

Being the first one into the event doesn’t necessarily make seat selection easy. Unlike in the ocean, where waves break in relatively the same spot and move in the same general direction (toward the shore), the wavepool has two diametrically opposed take-off positions and directions of ride.  

You could sit in the middle section of the bleachers, which would allow you to watch the first half of both the left and right (before the surfers inevitably disappear for the exciting end-bowl), or you could put all your eggs in one basket by sitting at either end of the structure, allowing you see full rides in only one direction.

It’s all about preference, really, but a few things to keep in mind are the wind (NW trades are better for the rights), your attention span (sitting in the middle will allow you to watch more waves in total but miss out on full rides) and what kind of gear you’ve got on deck (sitting at either end of the pool will necessitate the use of a telephoto lens or at the very least a high-functioning pair of binoculars). 

Or if you feel like getting some cardio throughout the event, you could probably sprint from one end of the pool to the other (a good 600 meters) after each wave, thus ensuring you don’t miss a bit of the action.

Although there will most likely be monitors scattered throughout the premises, allowing you to catch whichever part of the wave you missed, just like there would be at a “normal” sporting event. 

4. Please refrain from throwing rotten fruit at less favorable competitors

ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 Gabriel medinacurrumbinwildlife2

Lest we separate ourselves from the Romans. Photo: Rafael Moura

It’s sad that I even have to say this, but just because you can snipe Gabriel Medina with a sour tomato while he’s sliding through a 10-second tube doesn’t mean you should.

Although it would be kind of funny. 

5. How to get a wave of your own (without paying $10k)

FillWyI2MDAiLCI0MDAiXQ Respondek 22 A4 1

Taj knows the drill. 

Watching this event will be an undeniably enjoyable experience, but any true surfer will leave Lemoore feeling a bit empty without having scored a ride of his own. Considering most fans won’t be able to swing $10k for the Surf Ranch Experience, which includes a day of surfing after the event, we need to think more creatively.

Brendan Buckley once theorized that a surfer could feasibly ride a wave in the contest zone during the Quiksilver Pro Snapper without facing serious repercussions, and having been to the Surf Ranch twice before, I’m inclined to believe the same applies here.

All you need is a helicopter for the drop-off (roughly a quarter of the Surf Ranch Experience price), a rope ladder for the escape ($40 on Amazon), and balls of steel (absolutely free).

I think you can figure out the rest.

So have fun, respect the locals, and so long as the WSL grants us some goddamn press passes (we know you’re reading this, DP), we’ll see you in Lemoore!


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