POOL SURFING'S BIG RIPPLE
Game-changing ideas don't get much bigger than the wave pool. The possibilities are endless when perfection is available on tap. For starters you won't have to wait: for lows to spiral, banks to form, winds to swing, tides to drop, or even the sun to rise. If a mechanical future is fully realised you'll be able to dial up a session like your booking a squash court. Six-week flat spells will no longer inflict mental anguish and you won't risk divorce or unemployment when the swell finally does arrive. In a wave pool many things will be obsolete: drop-ins, crowds, sharks, reef cuts, hassling, snaking, clubbies, blue bottles, heavy locals and sewage pipes. You'll be able to get the wave of the day unimpeded – again and again and again. You won't even have to live near the coast. You could be a chlorine surfer in Alice Springs. For pros the wave pool offers the perfect training ground – a repeatable surface to push performance levels through the stratosphere. Manoeuvres we can't even imagine would become feasible. For the ASP programmable perfection means events could be run in big cities on weekends and attract a much bigger audience. While wave pools have been around since the 1930s no one has taken them much beyond a novelty experience. Greg Webber hopes to in the very near future. Construction of Webber's first full scale model is scheduled to be completed on the Sunshine Coast by late next year. He's promising a pool that will deliver 15 second rides and wave heights up to 1.75 metres. If he pulls it off and similar wave pools spring up around the world it will be a true revolution for surfing. But even when mechanical perfection arrives it's likely to be controversial. Wave pools may cleave surfing neatly in half. Not everyone will be lining up to pay for their next wave, many will be aghast at the very idea of artificial surfing. But there's no reason why the two can't coexist. Ocean surfing may even take on a bit more gravitas as a result. We may learn to appreciate all the gifts a pool can never deliver. Panel discussion: will it ever be possible to make a better barrel than Kirra?