Wave pools. Jeez, if we’ve heard about them once in the last few weeks we’ve heard about them a million times. And that’s largely due to the fact that our dear old friend Kelly Slater has shifted the boundaries in terms of artificial waves.
His secret contest was intriguing, it got the surf world hyped. If the speculation is to be believed we’re living in a transition period for competitive surfing. And however bored you are with seeing the footage of Slater’s endlessly barrelling perfection, you can’t help but be a smidgen impressed, even if you’re one of those who claims it sucks the soul out of the concept of ‘surfing’.
But whilst we have the option of dialling out of the hype, and simply redirecting our focus back to footage of 10 foot Indo’, those who have invested so heavily in the preceding generation of articificial waves must be feeling as crook as someone with a severe bout of Bali Belly. The team behind surf Snowdonia were amongst the first to produce a genuinely rideable wave. They’ve persevered doggedly through financial, technical and bureaucratic difficulties, yet unfortunately (thanks to Mr Slater) have ended up with a wave that even Jordy Smith fails to make look appealing. In O’Neil’s 1 minute long clip of the current world number one’s visit to Wales, there’s little more than 10 seconds of actual surfing. Most of the video is artistically shot drone footage or clever perspectives of him walking to the wave pool in slow motion. I can’t imagine his Instagram feed has been spewing adoration from around the world quite like those clips that emerged from Kelly’s Californian ranch. He puts a brave face on it, claims it’s a useful warmup for the heaving French pits he’s about to pull into in the South West of France, but you get the sense he’s simply paying his dues to his sponsors who have attempted to drum up a bit of publicity as the WSL enters the European leg of the tour.
It’ll be interesting to see how the likes of the Wavegarden will react to the new standard. I get that there’ll always be a place for small waves, whether artificial or real, for newbies to learn on or for those who don’t have easy access to the ocean. But clips of the pros busting the tail out on 2 foot of artificial mush are becoming an increasingly hard sell.
To watch the full video of Jordy’s trip to Wales click here.