While you finish cleaning up your coffee you just spit all over your screen, allow me to tell you that, yes, you read the title correctly. The World Surf League publicly announced Tuesday morning a new agreement that would give the majority of shareholdings in the Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC) to the WSL. Soak in that for a moment.
Last December, the surfing world was baffled after Kelly unveiled his greatest gift to surfing. The wave’s quality transcended every incarnation that came before it by a large margin. It was utterly perfect and the public was eating it up. The WSL saw an opportunity and wanted a piece.
“The WSL proudly represents the best in men’s and women’s competitive surfing globally, and the amazing man-made wave technology developed by Kelly Slater and his team is a revolutionary innovation that has the power to dramatically enhance every aspect of our sport,” said Paul Speaker, CEO of the WSL. “We share the same vision and passion for growing high-performance surfing, and are beyond excited to work together under one roof to bring the sport to levels and places never before possible.”
“While surfing for me will always be about adventure, travel, and the ocean, this wave brings a new opportunity to the sport without taking away the soulfulness that attracted many of us to surfing in first place,” said Slater. “Surfing great waves in a controlled environment adds a new dimension, as there is no hassling for waves, no stress over who got the best wave – they are all good. Everyone can relax, have fun and focus on improving their surfing.”
“It’s beyond my dreams that this wave will be a canvas for the global advancement of this great sport in partnership with the WSL,” he added. “It will democratize surfing and provide incredible training opportunities for athletes as well as aspirational surfers in areas with no ocean waves.”
The acquisition of shares in KSWC, like all big decisions made public these days, will certainly fall under judgement’s finger. However, I find that this move isn’t such a bad thing. The shift in control and influence within the wave company will have revolutionary implications and create a number of possibilities in the future of the sport—especially in competitive surfing. For example, wave pools can serve as training facilities, alleviating local crowds, and giving athletes adequate practice in a repetitive environment. It will provided immediate and accurate feedback and ultimately increasing their performance.
As board manufacturers, wave engineers, and athletes continue to fine-tune their equipment then we can undoubtedly expect to see a level of surfing that we’ve simply never seen before.
“We do believe that all stakeholders – athletes, fans, broadcast and corporate partners – will be super energized by the advent of Championship Tour-level competition with man-made waves,” he said, “but the ocean will always be our home, and the great waves on our tour will always remain the backbone of our competitive schedule.”
“No firm plans have been made for the inclusion of a man-made wave-based competition,” Speaker added. “We will be evaluating all the possibilities in the coming months with the Commissioners’ Office and the WSL athletes.”