After Kelly Slater unleashed his Franken-wave upon the world, a great rift opened in the surf world. A chasm spanning continents, a yawning fissure in the brittle facade of our little wave-sliding collective. “That’s not surfing!” One side screams through their keyboards over the gap. “It has no soul!” The other side, of course, responds in kind. “As IF you wouldn’t love to try it, you smug assholes!”
There is the very obvious fact that wave pools will not physically replace the ocean. It’s not going anywhere (except up, I suppose), and even Kelly himself says that wave pools are just another branch on the tree. “There’s no comparing with the REAL thing,” the pool-haters say, wallowing in their belief that they are tapped into what makes surfing fun. “We’re just so connected with Mother Nature!”
But wait! There IS comparing. Look up. Both sides have points, as is generally the case when sides are taken. Pool-haters are worried that pools might flood real lineups with inland surfers. Pool-lovers think that maybe lineups will be cut in half. Competitive surfing will be forever changed, starting this year. Wave pools, love ’em or hate ’em, are here to stay—and the way things are going, in a few decades they might just be the only thing left!