The internet has run out of superlatives to describe surfing’s equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The pros who have been fortunate enough to score a golden ticket have heaped praise onto an already impressive stream of adoration. Slater’s Instagram feed has spewed an endless barrage of clips constantly reminding us just how incredible his artificial wave is. Or at least, how incredible is appears to be.
Because how often have you watched someone who surfs better than you make bad surf look average? Or average surf look pretty darn good? And those who are at the top of the surfing tree are unsurprisingly the most talented at warping your perception of conditions. Take most recently the WSL contest from Portugal. In the hands of JJF, Medina and crew, there appeared to be hollow pits in which to shade from the late season European sun. But I can almost guarantee that in the hands of anyone other than the very best surfers, all these conditions would have delivered was a mighty beating. Be honest with yourself; could you have made those takeoffs? Kept ahead of the sections? Stayed in position amongst the ever shifting line-up? Perhaps, but probably not.
So back to King Kelly’s fairytale creation. It looks epic. But perhaps some reservation should be held before proclaiming artificial waves as the future of surfing. It might be wise to wait until we’ve seen a more ‘normal’ surfer hit the pool, allowing us to judge how easy is it to stay ahead of that lightening fast section? And discover how realistic pulling deep behind the seemingly endless curtain really is.
In some of the clips to emerge from the Futures Classic test event, contested at the Californian surf ranch, surf legend Mark Richards struggled to find the paddle power required to even get on the wave.
No doubt, Kelly lights it up. But then he could get us pumped about a 3 foot day at any mundane beach break. The real question is: will we be able to light it up too?