Writer, Surfer
It’s a freak of technology , created by a freak of nature.

It’s a freak of technology , created by a freak of nature.


The Inertia

Kelly Slater done changed the game. Again. I’ve lost count of the number of times Kelly Slater has left me in stunned silence, on the edge of my seat, or simply throwing my arms in the air with joy, amazement, disbelief…

It’s less than a week since he took a seemingly impossible drop at Backdoor in the dying seconds of his Rd4 superheat vs JJF and Fanning. He didn’t get the score he deserved and still lost the heat, but I firmly believe that had more to do with judging sympathy for Fanning the day after his brother had passed away. Not to mention keeping the title battle alive.

Slater has made a career of the seemingly impossible, and once again he has altered the paradigm. In all likelihood, he has changed the sport of surfing forever. With the emergence of the Kelly Slater Wave Company and what looks to be a damn near perfect wave, Slater has spun the world of surfing on its axis. Just as he has done so many times in competitive surfing, Kelly Slater is forcing us to recalibrate our expectations of what is possible.

It doesn’t matter what your opinions of artificial waves are. I have reflected in the past that they will probably never align with my surfing ideals. But Kelly’s wave deserves credit, if not simply as a mark of the man, then certainly from a technological achievement and aesthetic perspective.

Watching the wave break is hypnotic. It reminds me of the perfect little shoreline waves which we’ve all mind-surfed in miniature. Kelly’s reaction to it is evidence that the significance of the moment is not lost on him. How could it be? No one has a greater understanding of surfing than Slater. He’s like Neo in the Matrix, except he’s inside surfing.

Make no mistake, this wave will change the face of competitive surfing. At the conclusion of the Pipe Masters a few days ago, I couldn’t help feeling a bit flat. I dipped in and out of the coverage on the final day, and didn’t bother to watch the final at all. I had been so amped up by the early rounds, held in heaving Pipe, that to see the competition (and World Title race) play out in scraps was deflating.

Could we perhaps see a future where guaranteed perfect conditions and an artificial wave are a staple of the WSL calendar? If you’d asked me a few days ago, I’d have said that was potentially impossible, and at the very least light years away. After seeing the Kelly Slater Wave Company’s new wave, I know it’s an absolute certainty.
A consistent playing field will not only amplify the level of progression by epic proportions, but it will mean that the best surfers will consistently win (sorry, Adriano, I respect your grind, but that was your first and last title).

You’ve got to feel for the poor WaveGardeners. Kelly’s comment that “we could have put out an inferior wave years ago” is such a smack in the mouth for everyone who has already commissioned the WaveGarden technology that at this moment, they are probably frantically scanning their contracts for a get-out clause.

Kelly Slater’s importance cannot be overstated. Has there ever existed another figure, in any sport, who has been so influential, so game-changing? I doubt it. It’s funny to think that when it’s all said and done, and despite 11 World Titles and countless other achievements, we might consider The Kelly Slater Wave Company to be his magnum opus. I love the way he refers to his artificial wave as “a freak of technology.” It certainly is, but it’s a freak of technology which has been created by a freak of nature.



  • BustedKnuckles

    How will this change competitive surfing? You think the finals at pipe were boring haha wait till u tune into a same wave surfing comp you’re sadly mistaken buddy!

    • JohnHolmes13

      It will be a stop on the 17 tour. uUreally think he showed it up all the way? That’s half power,just wait,,,12 to 15 foot faces around the corner

      • Chazz Michael Michaels

        I would also have to agree with this. The technology in in its infancy. If they can produce this, they can produce much, much more down the line (pun intended!)
        Think about how much your mobile phone has changed in a a short space of time. If this is the first generation of this wavepool, then future generations will be mindblowing.

    • Chazz Michael Michaels

      Consider the progression of snowboarding and skateboarding because they can make multiple attempts at new tricks on a consistent ramp. This wave gives the best in the world an opportunity to try a trick hundreds of times a day, something which is just not possible right now. I can barely imagine what Toldeo, Medina, JJF could produce after a few sessions in a place like this…

      • BustedKnuckles

        I see where you coming from but this is fresh water it’s much different from surfing in salt water a lot less buoyant..why couldn’t they do this hundreds of times a day like they already do surfing great waves all day everyday?this won’t change their game

  • Miguel Murpi

    Funny that even with a man-made wave we still have to wake up at sunrise to go surfing..

  • xabi

    There are still many question to be answered.
    What is the time between waves?
    What is the energy consumption?
    These questions are solved by the wavegardeners you underestimate in your article…..

    • Chazz Michael Michaels

      Have they solved the problem of how to keep the doors open?

      • xabi

        No critics but one thing is certain: Wavegarden is at least 5 years in front of Kelly´s in all aspects.

        • You can’t judge with only one video. No one knows how the waves are produced, nor if the electric consumption is up the roof or relatively stable in Kelly’s waves.

  • freerider

    Well–for all you–and yes–I’m gonna say it again–“teenie bopper surf starlet groupies”–(J P Currie included)–have fun…….

    • Chazz Michael Michaels

      Once again, and stop me if you think you’ve heard this before, but if you truly hate all of this so much why do you consistently engage with it?

  • Noel krypto

    It´s the imperfect days that make the perfect days so perfect…

    Ohh sry I forgot, we live in a world where we have to embrace everything “new” otherwise you are labeled as the old grumpy local.
    Please don´t believe these things will come for the price of a hotdog.

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