Editor, Surf Park Central

Palladini continued by saying that the same should be true for surf parks. Just as the Tony Hawk Foundation was created to help increase the quality of skateparks in the US, we need to have people who really know surfing to help ensure that surf parks are built and run with the right concepts in mind. The Vans family intends to be one of those players that will help as soon as more parks begin popping up, but we need more support still to make sure these get done right.

Again, why can’t there be different types of surfing and different mediums within the same industry? Just as in skating, there can be. Quite frankly, whether we like it or not, there will be soon enough. Kids and adults learning to surf in a park should also learn things about the ocean in the process, but that doesn’t mean that every kid who surfs in a park will go surf in an ocean as well. In fact, I’d selfishly prefer it right now if they didn’t. Which brings us to my last point regarding SJ101’s comment.

The thing I don’t understand is why we aren’t putting the same kind of energy into man-made reefs. There are thousands of miles of coastline that could be improved.”

This one is a bit trickier but very important to address. At the Summit, surfing champion and legend Shaun Tomson gave an impassioned talk on building man-made reefs, groins, and jetties on existing stretches of coastline without breaks. I admittedly don’t know much about the environmental impact of such structures but I think he and SJ both raise a great point: we should be talking about man-made reefs and structures as well here. And to that end, I’d invite SJ to contact me at editor@surfparkcentral.com if he’d like to get in touch with Shaun or others who are hoping to get a dialogue going about this.

A large hurdle that I think may exist between getting funding for such projects and raising a lot of awareness about them is the fact that there just aren’t enough surfers in positions of great influence around the world today. Also, these structures would really only help surfers on the coasts, which is a very small percentage of the world. Maybe they’d help the environment and marine wildlife, but I can’t speak to that knowledgeably.

However, surf parks can only help in this matter as well. The more people you get to realize the benefits of surfing, the greater the likelihood is that people will actually start paying attention and caring about the ocean. Then, perhaps, there will be a much smoother path for working on breaks in the ocean itself. All of these topics were raised and discussed at the Summit, but they ultimately need a continued dialogue to progress so, by all means, let’s keep talking about them.

Champions Rabbit Bartholomew, Shaun Tomson, and PT Townend flanked by John Luff and Matt Reilly of SPC

Rabbit Bartholomew, Shaun Tomson and PT Townend flanked by John Luff and Matt Reilly of SPC. Photo: Nick Teague

Before I kick out here, there’s just one more brief comment that was drawn from Beamish’s article to address. The author wrote:

“AT THE EXPENSE OF NATURE, SHAMEFUL REALLY. Saying that you want to spread the stoke or honor Duke is pretty much a lie. It sounds like you want more people to surf so you can sell us more products. Pretty obvious. This is at the expense of nature, displacing land to build a sanitized water bath powered by jet fuel. The Best part about surfing is waiting for the next swell to arrive and then being stoked on Great conditions. “Only a surfer knows the feeling,” lets keep it at that.”

While I surely open myself up to an onslaught of similar comments and sentiments by taking a stab at this one, I’d be remiss not to. Quite frankly, there was a time not very long ago that I felt the same exact way. The truth of the matter is, though, and I sincerely mean this without a trace of malice, it’s simply an ignorant view of what’s actually going on here.

The overwhelming majority of the speakers at the Summit, and all of the ones that I talked to personally, have a vested interest in the ocean and natural habitats and are absolutely sincere about spreading the stoke of surfing for all the right reasons. Also, many of these parks aren’t, and don’t have to be, at the expense of nature. Take the new Surf Snowdonia project that’s planned in North Wales, for instance. The plan calls for the tearing down of an old, dilapidated aluminum factory that has been an eyesore to the local community for years and the buildup of a surf park and other attractions in its place. The development will not only look better, but it will draw wanted tourism to the area and create jobs for locals as well. The Summit was also host to a sustainability discussion that addressed this concept and others that called for similar ways to improve landscapes, not detract from them. They are also not powered “by jet fuel.”

What is powered by jet fuel, however, are the aircraft that take professional and amateur surfers from one exotic destination to the next. Incidentally, that is the biggest metric for the carbon footprint left by an individual–how much plane travel one makes in their life. Do with that what you will, but a big thanks to Chad Nelson, the Environmental Director of the Surfrider Foundation, for pointing this out to everyone at the Summit.

Not coincidentally, Tom Lochtefeld, owner of Wave Loch and Wave House, discussed how he is currently working on wave technology that utilizes an engine that is about 85% efficient and that he believes will get up to 90-95% efficiency soon. Furthermore, he’s not willing to release this technology until it does pass the muster for efficiency in his eyes. The point is they’re not all out to club baby seals and eat reef.

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