Why Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool Will Destroy The Way We Know Surfing


Robert Berarducci

Senior David Fosman surfs the south side break of the Oceanside pier.

Gabriel Vecchio, Staff Writer

No one would have expected that Lemoore, California— a small town of 26,000 and only 150 miles from the ocean— would be the homeplace of modern surfing. With the recent media attention surrounding surfing icon Slater’s wavepool, dubbed the “Surf Ranch” by KSWaveCo., the future of surfing seems like it’s headed in a manmade direction.

Surfer Magazine, countless surf forums, and online news sites have all contributed to the hype of the newfangled device, but the technology isn’t new.  In fact, there are many wave pools located across the world, even a few in the U.S.. In fact, even Disney’s Typhoon lagoon built in 1989 has the same technology as the Kelly Slater Wave Company.  But the fact that the 11-time world champion built the pool is what sets it apart.  

By now, any surfer knows about Slater’s wavepool that countless surf-related news sites have been writing about. People around the world have their eyes glued to every video clip, Instagram post, and Snapchat clip to see the perfect wave, which is closed to the public.

Rumors have spread claiming that the Wave Ranch will be a stop on the WSL tour (the World Surfing League) and that it may be creating an “even playing field for the X Games or even the Olympics.” The WSL— who had bought a majority of stake for an undisclosed amount— ran a test event on Sept. 19.  

But the perfect nature of the wave is what would ruin competitive surfing. There is a natural talent associated with selecting great natural waves.

No wave is the same: these forms of energy travel for thousands of miles, from storms out in the middle of the ocean, to be ridden. Different pulses and storm patterns create differently sized and shaped waves.  The “best” surfers can ride both big and small waves.  A well-rounded surfer can even surf in windy and small-wave conditions.

To compete on a machine-made wave takes the organic feel out of surfing.  The ocean gives waves life and soul. With this new wave-producing beast, the imperfect harmony of surfing is eliminated. So far, the Wave Ranch has been the star of the technological surfing world, but it begs the question: will it remain so? Does the future of competitive surfing live within the Wave Ranch? Only time will tell.