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
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