Did you happen to catch the revolution yesterday? Oh, that’s right, the revolution was not televised. The World Surf League (WSL) held a test event at Kelly Slater’s wave pool (aka the Surf Ranch) with an upper tier of the Championship Tour surfers.
The world was given bits and pieces throughout the day from Lemoore, California, via social media videos and updates while the WSL mocked out broadcasting logistics, formatting and other details that go into putting on a major surf contest. And from what we can gather, it was quite a historic day for pro surfing. Despite it being merely a test, Gabriel Medina and Carissa Moore were named the winners.
Here are seven things we learned from this experiment at arguably the greatest man-made wave ever created.
1. Kelly Slater cares not for doctor’s orders
Kelly Slater has shown in the past his knack for being able to get barreled with only one good foot. And he did so again this morning, surfing on his surgically repaired foot that is not supposed to be surfed on right now. But was the G.O.A.T. (and revolution host) really going to sit this whole thing out?
Of course not.
2. End zones come to surfing
That’s right, taking a page right from the playbook of the NFL, the two ends of the pool that surfers ride toward (one way going right, the opposite going left) are being dubbed “end zones.” As the WSL described them:
“With rides that are more than 2000 feet long the playing field at the Surf Ranch is massive. Unlike traditional surf events, where the waves are only breaking toward shore, iteration 2.0 offers surfers the chance to go both ways up and down the track. This translates into an entirely new fan experience if you’re in the end zone, as surfers race directly at you going one direction, and away from you for the other. Big screens play a huge role keeping them up to speed, especially with the slow-motion replays.”
3. John Florence already has it dialed
Honestly, there isn’t a wave on the planet John Florence doesn’t inherently know how to ride to perfection. The subtle nuances of timing and toying with a wave are in Florence’s blood — just look at those check stalls!
4. Wind still plays a factor
You’d think that with a fabricated wave that’s over 100 miles from the ocean, things like wind wouldn’t really matter. But they actually do. Offshores, sideshores, onshores — they’re all going to play a factor. And as the WSL said of Filipe Toledo’s leaving the lip, “With a favorable wind blowing into the rights it was only a matter of time before Filipe Toledo took to the air.”
5. Steph Gilmore can get really barreled
Not that we didn’t already know this. But Gilmore’s barrel prowess stems from growing up at Snapper Rocks in Australia, and she certainly exhibited it on this wave.
6. The wave is powerful
Of course, watching the videos, every wave looks flawless. But Jordy Smith also pointed out that it was more powerful than expected, which will go a long way in keeping ocean surfers honest. “I got properly drilled out there,” Smith told the WSL. “That wave is powerful and when you fall you get worked.”
7. Wave pools are the future of contests
Gathering the upper echelon of the world’s best surfers and throwing them into a perfect wave pool is certainly going to invoke the feeling that the revolution/future of surf contests (and possibly even surfing itself) is upon us. But the best way to put it is from those who were there and experienced it:
“After surfing for so many years, to get this feeling again … is just incredible.” — Joel Parkinson
“This is the future.” — Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, 1978 world champion
“I just walked into the future.” — Stephanie Gilmore
More about wave pools from GrindTV