Surfing but not in the ocean?

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade.)

With the 2019 Freshwater Pro approaching, I thought this piece was fitting.

Surfing to me is one of the things that can get you closest to mother nature. Already surfing at a base level, you feel very one with nature. As you excel and gain more and more confidence when standing on a surfboard, the experience turns up a notch and becomes a whole new beast. The barrel (when the wave covers you up and then you get spit out of the tunnel of water that was just around you) is the apex of this feeling. Literally the only thing around you is nature. It is an experience that is tough to explain, because words don’t do it justice. What happens when nature is replaced? Technology these days has been constantly making nature substitutes, and one recently was made that could totally change surfing.

When I was growing up as a young surfer, something like this was fairy tale talk. Never had anyone given a thought to the perfect wave, let alone it being a manmade one. Wave pools starting gaining popularity when I was in high school, so the magnitude they are being created at today is a fairly recent feat. Sure, there have been plenty of wave pools, and some really good ones at that. The wave garden, another wave pool, makes a wave any surfer would love to surf. It’s a performance wave that has lots of variety in the types of waves and sections that present themselves. The thing that sets the Kelly’s (Kelly Slater, the most accomplished surfer in the history of the sport) wave pool apart is that Kelly’s pool is actually the closest thing on earth to a perfect wave. Some waves in nature can be considered “perfect”, but Kelly’s is literal perfection, even to the point where he can alter the wave at his wish, making it perfect for everyone. Below is a video that breaks down what’s going on under the hood of this milestone for surfing.

Like stated in the video, does the search for the perfect wave end here? Just for the case of argument, here is the closest thing we have found to a perfect wave. Its in Africa, and requires a whole lot of prep work to get there. From flights to driving on dunes, all to arrive and potentially see the wrong tide or swell angle. This wave is as perfect as it is finicky. Even when it looks perfect, pros often admit its a lot harder, with underwater currents moving super fast, and the unpredictability of the wave breaking over sand.

This wave is the closest thing to perfection, and like stated above, hardly is ever perfect. This is also leaving out the fact it is only a left, where a regular footed surfer would maybe enjoy it less since he has to surf it backside. Kelly’s pool can go both ways (left and right), and literally comes down to a science.

Contrary to what you would believe, not everyone is stoked on the wave pool. Is it the perfect wave? Is it even a wave since it is not in the ocean? Lots of people are up in arms about the debate. Personally, I think anyone who is against it just is jealous they can’t surf it (like in the video earlier, it is a private property/prototype, and not open to the public). But, I have to say I somewhat agree. Since surfing at its finest is bonding with nature, would feel the same way coming out of an artificial barrel as we would a real one mother nature sent us? Only the people who have surfed it know the answer to this one, and most of them say it feels just as good. One thing that also had the surfing purists infuriated was that Kelly’s pool has replaced the Lower trestles contest in September on the 2018 WCT (World Championship Tour) present by the WSL (World Surf League.). Never should a wave pool replace the only surf contest surfed in America (it’s a world tour; Lower Trestles is located in San Clemente, CA; no other wave in the United States can support a world tour event).

This made many people angry, and many people began to say this:

(The person who said this, Noa Deane, faced heavy scrutiny and ended up apologizing for the statement.)

Kelly ran a test even earlier in 2017, and I would say the surf enthusiasts were split. Some thought it was an awesome event. Some thought it was boring, watching everybody surf the same wave. Nonetheless, the surfers in the event were stoked, and whether the public like the idea or not, everyone is going to be watching in September to see what unfolds on the artificial wave. It is such a perfect wave, it will be similar to slope style snowboarding, in which surfers can plan their run out ahead of time. This hyper reality is uncharted territory in the sport of surfing, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

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