I like it or not, Kelly’s wave will change surfing forever. Since the first footage of it hit the internet, the surfing world has been speculating about its impact on professional surfing. Those speculations were given serious credence when the World Surf League bought the wave. To be sure, it does solve many of the problems inherent in surfing as a sport. But like Kelly himself says, it’s not meant to replace the ocean.
“It’s not meant to replace anything,” he told Surfer Magazine. “I’ve always said this is a supplement to surfing in the ocean, and something for fun. I guess it could help the sport grow more quickly, similar to the way skateparks have grown skateboarding, and the potential for the Olympics can’t be overlooked.”
Of course, none of this needs to have any effect on surfing outside of the professional realm. Take skateboarding, for example: the existence of a street course in the X-Games doesn’t take away from the purity of a guy skating down the street. If anything, it serves as a benchmark of sorts for progression. I suppose, in an ideal world, Kelly’s wave might divide the sport into two groups: ocean surfers and pool surfers. In a not-so-ideal world, it will act as a training ground for a million more people to pack the already-crowded lineups. Either way, right now we’re looking at a glimpse into what is to come. And of all the many clips of Kelly’s wave on the internet, the most recent one is, perhaps, the most telling of the future of pro surfing.