Author: Rob Kelly
On December 17, 2020, American Wave Machines invited two of the country’s top surfers, Evan Geiselman and Kevin Schulz, to compete in the first ever game of SURF held in a PerfectSwell® wave pool. If you’re a skateboarder or grew up with a basketball hoop in your neighborhood you are likely familiar with how the game of SKATE or HORSE works. For those that aren’t, the simple explanation of how the game works is as follows. One surfer performs a trick. If that surfer completes the trick, the 2nd surfer has to complete the same trick. If they complete the trick the rotation continues. If they fail to compete the trick that surfer gets a letter. The first person to spell out the word SURF loses. Here is how it all went down.
Competition has always been a major part of surfing culture. The first World Surfing Championships were held in Australia back in 1964 and since then surfers have continued to fine-tune a competitive format while having to work around an ever-changing ocean.
In traditional surf competitions held in the ocean, there are a number of uncertainties when trying to plan an event. No matter how much pre-planning goes into a contest, the ocean will always have the final say in the success of the event. Sometimes the waves show up, sometimes they don’t. This forces events to have long waiting periods for waves which makes scheduled broadcasting almost impossible.
Most of the limitations that come with holding a surf competition in the ocean can be eliminated using PerfectSwell® surf technology. With the ability to provide high quality, consistent waves with the push of a button, PerfectSwell® surf technology provides the perfect platform for high level competitions to be held.
Both the Ripcurl Grom Search National Championship and the Monster Energy Stab High events were held at the PerfectSwell® wave pool at BSR in Waco, Texas. After seeing the success of these two events, it is becoming more and more clear that wave pools will play a massive role in competitive surfing moving forward. By offering surfers a high level, consistent playing field for the first time, the possibilities on PerfectSwell® for new competitive formats are endless.
The performance level and reactions from everyone in the pool during the game of SURF demonstrated a proof of concept for new and exciting competitive formats to be created. By giving surfers equal opportunity to perform on every wave, wave pools have been able to eliminate many of the challenges that come with holding a competition on a moving playing field in the ocean. This opens up the door for better broadcasting opportunities which help showcase the sport to the masses in the same way other popular actions sports have been able to.
While surfing is credited as the inspiration for the creation of both skateboarding and snowboarding, these two sports have been able to surpass surfing as far as spectator sports. They have been able to build massive competitive platforms and have been showcased on major network television channels through the X-games and winter Olympics.
When showcased properly, surfing should be able to appeal to the masses in the same way or more. After all, it is one of the world’s most aspirational sports. Wave pools have finally given surfing the competitive platform needed to achieve more mainstream success and will certainly take the sport of surfing to new heights.