CARISSA MOORE

THE SCENERY DEF­I­NITELY PUT THINGS IN PER­SPEC­TIVE OF HOW LUCKY I AM TO LIVE BY THE OCEAN AND CHASE WAVES FOR A LIV­ING. MADE ME WON­DER HOW MY LIFE WOULD BE DIF­FER­ENT IF I LIVED LAND LOCKED

Carve - - FILE -

There was a time when the ex­clu­sive boat char­ter was go­ing to de­stroy surf­ing as we knew it, and dis­grun­tled feral surfers voiced their in­dig­na­tion at the fact that their way of travel and of life was to be ru­ined by surfers swan­ning around on decks of lux­ury yachts and drink­ing cold beer. The boat char­ter busi­ness seems to be go­ing OK to­day.

The surf camp was an­other con­cept that was go­ing to de­stroy our sport, and the fact that surf re­sorts like Pasta Point had ex­clu­sive con­trol of the waves that broke over their na­tive reefs. We’re still do­ing ok, and so are th­ese re­sorts. Some­times it’s fash­ion­able to be a Lud­dite, but there are times when we need to em­brace change, or sud­denly find our­selves dated, fee­ble and old-fash­ioned, gorm­less and out the game.

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch con­cept is in­cred­i­ble on so many lev­els, but it’s not go­ing to change our world. Not in the present par­a­digm. At $25 mill’ a pop, and an un­known busi­ness model, there are very few that are go­ing to spring up.

Is there go­ing to be a gate fee, or a wave fee? How much would a nor­mal punter be able to af­ford to surf a wave­pool? Will there be con­ces­sions for un­der­priv­i­leged peo­ple? What about the cost of en­ergy to run the ma­chine? We know that Kelly is us­ing green en­ergy, but it comes at a pre­mium and is it fea­si­ble to keep the ma­chine go­ing while us­ing pre­mium juice? With the mas­sive mov­ing parts, there are go­ing to be se­ri­ous main­te­nance is­sues go­ing for­ward, but no one knows what th­ese are as it is in­no­va­tive, new tech­nol­ogy.

With the Olympic Games loom­ing, there are many peo­ple who be­lieve that gov­ern­ments should set up surf ranches for their teams, to prac­tice and perfect their wave rid­ing tech­niques prior to the games. For a coun­try to win medals, a train­ing ground for their ath­letes is an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity.

In essence how­ever, it is pri­mar­ily a com­pet­i­tive surf­ing arena. It is made for con­tests, with con­sis­tent and iden­ti­cal waves com­ing through at mea­sured in­ter­vals. Cam­eras can be set up from var­i­ous an­gles for a fresh we­b­cast ex­pe­ri­ence, spec­ta­tors can watch from the com­fort of a cock­tail bar or restau­rant, and the waves are that good that pro­fes­sional surfers can go to town and get prop­erly bar­relled over and over again. There is very lit­tle to get an­gry about.

For many poorer coun­tries, th­ese ma­chines would not work. The ex­or­bi­tant cost of de­vel­op­ing a wave­pool of this qual­ity would prob­a­bly not be able to get a fair and sus­tain­able re­turn in coun­tries like South Africa, In­done­sia and Brazil. With strug­gling economies and re­ces­sions, there would be no chance of mak­ing them work fi­nan­cially.

Yet they could be great for the UK, and pos­si­bly Dubai, to name but two out­side of USA and Aus­tralia where they will def­i­nitely be hap­pen­ing. With strong economies and small surf (UK) and vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent surf (Dubai) as well as mas­sive surf pop­u­la­tions (UK) and loads of tran­sit surfers as well as ex­pat pop­u­la­tion, they could both be to­tally fea­si­ble. Imag­ine of Gre­ville Mitchell had the op­por­tu­nity to put his phil­an­thropic money into a surf ranch as his legacy? Or if a rich Dubai sheikh’s son stum­bles upon surf­ing, and wants a few of th­ese ranches for him­self and his mates?

Kelly Slater’s surf ranch is go­ing to change our sport for­ever. Those surfers who refuse point blank to pay for a wave, or to surf a wave that isn’t made by nature, will con­tinue to watch from the side­lines, not ever re­ally know­ing that they’re re­ally miss­ing.

Those peo­ple who em­brace the ma­chine, and ac­knowl­edge func­tional wave-pools as a healthy ad­di­tion to our sport and life­style and not as a pre­de­ces­sor of an ugly dystopian fu­ture, will have the op­por­tu­nity to get to­tally bar­relled over and over again.

Surfers are gen­er­ally self­ish bas­tards who make de­ci­sions for their own hap­pi­ness when it comes to the sport. There will be very few who will refuse to surf th­ese wave­pools, and those peo­ple will soon be for­got­ten…

KELLY SLATER’S SURF RANCH CON­CEPT IS IN­CRED­I­BLE ON SO MANY LEV­ELS, BUT IT’S NOT GO­ING TO CHANGE OUR WORLD

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