It’s official, the World Surf League has added Kelly Slater Wave Co in Lemoore, CA to its list of scheduled events for the 2018 World Championship Tour. The WSL acquired a majority stake in the KSWC back on May 24, 2016. Since then Kelly’s mystical wave has been surrounded by speculation as to what type of event, if any, would be on display at the ranch. This statement from the WSL marks a day in competitive surfing history:
Since coming online in December 2015, the WSL Surf Ranch Facility in Lemoore, California has undergone constant refinement and evolution of its technology. A test event this year in September delivered very positive results in terms of competitive experience and the overwhelmingly supportive feedback from surfers training there throughout the season has encouraged the WSL to pursue an event at the facility in 2018.
The ocean is always going to be at the heart of surfing but training and holding events in a consistent playing field as this will, at the least, be a major motivator behind the progression of surfing.
When preparing to surf an event like this, one can only imagine that it would be similar to planning a superpipe run on a snowboard. The surfers might have an entire wave planned with their best maneuvers, setting the stage for an amazing event.
“It’s incredible what the WSL and KSWC teams have developed over the past year and California’s Central Valley now boasts a world-class wave,” Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. “This technology, and its ability to deliver high-quality waves at any location in the world, opens so many possibilities for how we can complement and evolve the competitive surfing experience.
“The experience of competing at Surf Ranch is pretty extraordinary,” Adrian Buchan, CT competitor, and athlete representative, said. “What the team has created is hard to fathom at first – a perfect, 400-yard-long, bi-directional wave in the middle of rural California. I have no doubt that both the quality of the wave and the experience is befitting of hosting a world-class CT event. The Ocean will always be our home, but as we grow, having the opportunity to showcase and share the stoke of surfing to new audiences and schedule with pinpoint accuracy the huge match-ups and drama of the WSL is really exciting.”
“Based on the results of our test event this year and the feedback from surfers training at the facility throughout the season, next September’s event has the potential to be something special for both surfers and fans,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said. “We’re only scratching the surface of how this technology can be applied and it is completely game-changing for the sport.”
A full 2018 WSL schedule is planned to be released next week.
With all of this going on, it brings up the thought of opportunities for talented surfers that don’t compete on the WQS. Will artificial waves create a space for these guys and girls to surf competitively in a different way?