In case you missed it, a new wave pool has opened up in Japan just prior to the Olympic kick off.
Looks kinda fun actually.
With all eyes are on the Philippine Sea in hopes of some swell next week, a rumor popped up that the new pool was possibly in the running to hold some heats in the event no contestable surf was available for the Olympic event.
Fernando quickly shot that down however (and don’t even get us started on the Joan Duru debacle).
Which is unfortunate as the idea of Olympic surfing in a wave pool might have actually held some merit.
Wait, us promoting wave pools?
Well, truth be told, the whole Olympic thing isn’t on the top of our list as a “must have” for surfing either, but if we are going down that road we might as well jump in with both feet.
Here’s why it just might work and regardless of Fernando’s dream of promoting the culture of surfing in order to sell the sport. Which, by the way, is what some think is the magic sauce as they continue to attempt to take surfing mainstream.
First and foremost, a mainstream audience isn’t ever going to “get” ocean surfing no matter what the waves are like. Unless it’s maybe like 100 feet and people are dying and shit. Especially, in an Olympic-style broadcast where short tidbits are shown in random time slots. Actual, everyday surfers barely watch competitive surfing as it is unless it’s convenient and the waves are pumping so there’s no chance a non-surfer is going to get, much less be hyped on, three to the beach in small, crumbly beach break surf.
Now a pool on the other hand just might catch a few non-surfing eyeballs as it’s much easier to compare one ride to the next.
Something along the lines of “Hey honey, that one guy did a spinny thing and the other guy did two spinny things!”
All this talk about how surfing comps need wave knowledge, priority battles, luck, mother nature, etc., to show the myriad intricacies may be true but that assumes you actually know what that means. Very simply, trying to get a non-surfer to sit through a 10-minute lull only to watch a grovel to the beach on a two-foot wave is a very tall ask.
In a mixed-up way, Fernando is right, surfing is much more than wave riding, which is why many of us love it so much. Travel, good friends, picking up a new board, and all the rest of the intangibles do make surfing special, but why do we need to push that down the throat of a bunch of people who don’t understand any of that?
Which bring us back to the wavepool vs. ocean contradiction: do we want people to actually be interested or are we trying to force them to understand and even enjoy something they never will?
Maybe the “sport” of surfing, at least when presented to a mainstream audience, does indeed have a future in wave pools?
That way you can leave the rest of us alone at our metaphorical campground down Baja with a case of Pacificos and a new swell filling in.