Stab Magazine | Would You Dare To Confront Your Mediocrity?

'Vacation Presented By Monster Energy' Drops 5pm on Thurs, March 30 (PT)


Would You Dare To Confront Your Mediocrity?

On wavepool surf skill assessments and the future.

style // Feb 13, 2020
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

What if your entire life leads you to a point in which all of your actions—the things you’ve been doing wrong, the things you’ve been doing right—are measured by a mighty creator who proceeds to seal your fate? 

This, of course, is the concept behind the ‘License to Ride’ system at The Wave (pool) in Bristol, England—we’re here for thumping tubes, not bibles. Per an Instagram post:  

We’re excited to announce our ‘Licence to Ride’ sessions are being planned in. These will allow advanced surfers to come and be assessed by our Wavemakers for access to our more intense range of waves.

These larger, punchier and more powerful waves will provide a greater challenge and opportunity to really up your game. In an Olympic year where surfing is making it’s debut, it has never been more exciting time to provide the whole range of waves which can take an absolute beginner through to an elite performer.

Ever since Adriano de Souza won the World Title (remember not remembering that?), the surf world has been left to ponder how wave pools will affect our culture. Will it be bad? Like, leaking hordes of chlorinated beginners who bring chaos to our cherished lineups bad? Will it be good? Like, one of your degenerate friends swindles their way into employment and you get the occasional Thursday night after-hours free sessions good? 

Those very important questions, at the moment, remain unanswered.

However, The Wave’s License To Ride test could be hinting at a more immediate cultural consequence. 

The first stage of the wave pool arms race has shown us that a lot of shit is possible — from proper slabs to perfect ramps to annoyingly long walls that do not at all lend themselves to entertaining surf competition.  

The clear takeaway? We’ll have our options when it comes to wave type. 

This LTR thing ain’t such a bad approach. There are few things in life more frustrating than watching another surfer botch the takeoff on a tube that could have been yours. The romantic part of my brain thinks that is the reason why The Wave would introduce this system. The rational part of my brain knows damn well it’s because they’d prefer not to be in the business of breaking people’s necks.

Either way, I like it. Except… except there’s one problem. 

What if you fail the test?

The author, Brendan Buckley (also known by the alias Big Dick Power Surfer), has defeated the 2x World Champ Gabriel Medina in a man-on-man heat. Surely that’s worth of a Bristol License to Ride.

Unlike real surfing, where you can mask your inadequacies with “alternative” surfboards and apathetic wave selection, wavepools allow you no place to hide. You’re fully exposed.  

Let’s take a moment to consider the criteria. But let’s also make fun of it. According to The Wave’s site, to pass the LTR test you must be able to: 

-Comfortably ride waves above 2.0m 
Impossible. Waves are measured in feet. 

-Paddle in large waves and strong currents
What about that German guy who tows Nazare? 

Elite performance. 

-Take-off consistently
What about Jamie Mitchell? 

-Generate speed
This just reads like you’re selling fins. 

-Perform turns
Like 2013 Filipe Toledo or 2020 Filipe Toledo? 

-Negotiate sections
Even the world’s best surfers couldn’t successfully negotiate certain sections of their contracts with Hurley. 

-Demonstrate respectful surf etiquette
Politely getting more waves than everyone else is one of surfing’s most pure forms of art. 

If you’ve committed any decent portion of your life to surfing, you should be able to pass this test with ease. You could go to Bristol and earn your license to tube.

However, it’s fairly likely that bigger, heavier waves will be available on-demand at pools in the coming years. And it’s not farfetched to think that a system like this will dictate your access to them — but with an upped criteria to compensate for the power of the waves. 

Which is to say that someday, somewhere, you could be explicitly told that you are not good enough to surf a certain wave. For a passionate lifelong surfer, this could lead to an existential crisis. 

So, what do you do?

Let me tell you in advance. 

You return home, to the ocean, on a day significantly bigger or heavier than what you were denied access to in a pool. You pack the biggest closeout you can find and get your ass handed to you. And you come in smiling, better for it, never to return to a wave pool again. 

The end.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent


Why You Should Never Not Paddle Out

How an impromptu 30 minute session made a Jamaican surfer $1,000 richer.

Mar 30, 2023


“I’ve Had Two Concussions Surfing Here”

Chronicles of a Newport shore-hound.

Mar 29, 2023

Rio Waida Has Been Surfing Onshore, Oversized Bells Alone

...and he might not go home all year.

Mar 29, 2023


John Florence Releases Long-Form Piece On The 243km Great Ocean Squiggle

Tourism Victoria going, ‘he just did our job for us’.

Mar 29, 2023


Japanese Rice Farmer Enjoys Frightening Sumatran West Bowls

Kaito Ohashi is on his best behavior.

Mar 28, 2023

Watch: When People Like This Speak, We Listen

Raw, extended conversations with Clyde Aikau and Eddie Aikau winner Luke Shepardson.

Mar 28, 2023


Diamond Tail = Diamond Hands?

We'll explain everything in the Rusty D-Min Joyride.

Mar 27, 2023

Behold Australia’s Nine & NZ’s Two Challenger Series Qualifiers*

May the Southern Cross smile upon you at Snapper.

Mar 27, 2023

An Unordinary Life Structured Around A Tidal Bore

Long Read: The life and times of Pete Beachy.

Mar 26, 2023


Watch: ‘Haiku’

Scenes From a Remote Reality, by Vans & Karina Rozunko

Mar 25, 2023

Sun Room: The Overnight Success Of A Young Surf Band

What's it like touring the world and living off of McDonald's?

Mar 25, 2023

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 6

An instructional manual for the modern professional surfer

Mar 23, 2023


Caity Simmers — Extreme Competitive Surf Vlogger

Cool is chemical.

Mar 23, 2023

Globe Pulls Out Of The Apparel Game

…and, Taj Burrow and Dion Agius are now looking for new main sponsors.

Mar 22, 2023

Owen Wright Announces Retirement From Competitive And Heavy-Water Surfing

But will surf final CT event at Bells.

Mar 22, 2023


Fancy An Ale, Some Good Music, And A Bunch Of Tubes?

Ballet's minimalist full-length will satiate your needs.

Mar 22, 2023

João Chianca Spent Seven Years On The QS Without A Sponsor

And look where he is now.

Mar 22, 2023

Take Stab’s 2023 Audience Survey, Win A 3-Board Quiver

Stab towels and Premium subscriptions also up or grabs.

Mar 21, 2023