Is The Wave Pool Anti-Surfing?
Brother, Tenerife. Villalba/WE
I am the only person in the world who really can’t get excited about a man made wave. And I’m not sorry.
Sometimes I go to a lonely place, by myself. It is a nation with a population of one. I am in lonely exile in the land of I have no interest whatsoever in wave pools. Apparently, I am the only person I’ve ever met who has such beliefs. Everybody else, ever, is apparently deeply in both love and lust with the wave pool. Friends, colleagues, members of the general surfing public, pros, ams, etc etc, all are enthralled by the wave pool proposition. A clip of a wave pool’s brand new 40cm wave goes online and receives several trillion hits in the first thirty seconds. People with whom I’ve had no contact in years email and ask if I know how to get them a session. And yet, despite the clamour, the froth, the excitability, I cannot join the fawning. I cannot wonder about ‘what might be possible’.
To me, alone as I am, the wave pool is anti-surfing.
Wave Pool Revolution
The wave pool proposition does nothing for me. Perhaps due to the lack of salt brine, that intoxicating ionic mist known to promote that euphoric feeling of the ocean dipper inner. Perhaps the removal of the ‘daddy’ effect, no it is greater-than-me and stronger-than-me, no I-must-submit humility of the ocean swell rider. Perhaps because there is no marine life, no marine death. No cliff, no dune, no guano covered jump off rock. No horizon, no weather, no ephemeral beauty nor ugliness, no glass off, no moon rise, no symbolic return to the primeval soup, no… nature. It is the shopping mall just outside the ring road. It is the packet instant cappuccino powder of surfing experience. Just add tepid water. It is the utilitarian perversion of everything that ever appealed about going for a surf, to me at least. A plastic replica of one of nature’s great spectacles. Incredibly, despite surfing’s general masquerading as an eco-friendly (or at least eco-empathetic) nature-revering pass time, today’s great excitement is for the artificially generated surfing wave. Wave by generator, i.e. wave by carbon. Huey, get your hat and coat.
Forgive me, but getting past the fog of time-honoured cliché, wasn’t the very hook of the whole thing, that you weren’t in control? Wasn’t that the thing that made getting a decent wave so amazing was that it couldn’t be repeated on demand? The no two waves the same, no guarantees, master the ride but never the ocean etc etc, wasn’t that quasi masochistic relationship with big blue the one reason it happened to take over our lives? Possibly not, maybe it was that we just liked sitting out the back floating and looking back at the world from a different angle. Whatever.
If I Wanted To Go To The Pool, I’d Go Swimming
If I wanted to repeat the same manoeuvre ad nausea on a geometrically repeating transition, I’d go to the mini-ramp. But if I wanted to ‘train’ for surfing, I’d go surfing… in the surf. But don’t let me spoil your fun, I’m sure I won’t. Kelly, apparently you’re building one that is going to be mind-blowing. Good luck to you. Everyone else, get amongst it. After all, it’s all about ‘fun’ right? Any way you can get it. I am clearly just a luddite weirdo, missing the point.
I can’t really grow a beard, for patchiness, and I’m not an accomplished bodysurfer, for crap at swimmingness, but give me some kind of littoral zone wilderness escape, any day. In fact, deny me the prospect, maybe, but the wilderness horizon aspiration will persist. Design the greatest wave machine ever, Macaronis on demand if you want. See where you can take it. But I’ll still trundle up the beach on the shittiest day of the year.