From the new left at Kelly Slater’s wave ranch, to the Continuance documentary series and new board releases, Slater is making waves throughout the surf industry. This past month Kelly showed off his new left break at his California Surf Ranch location with videos from Gerry Lopez and Bethany Hamilton.
This past Tuesday, Kelly showed off his technology again by hosting a secret contest at Surf Ranch with 10 male and 8 female surfer’s including John Jon Florence (a 3 time champ), Mick Fanning, Filipe Todedo (A Brazilian surfer who recently won at Trestles), Santa Ana’s Courtney Conlogue, Carissa Moore (Read her interview on the experience on Surfline), and Stephanie Gilmore ( a 6 time world champ). Stephanie Gilmore stunned the crowd with a barrel ride that lasted over 14 seconds.
A Tight Security Event
In total, only 150 people were invited to surf in or watch the secret contest. It was the first “test contest,” hosted by the World Surf League at the Surf Ranch location. Although it has been the most “public” event to date at Surf Ranch, security was said to be tight and no media was allowed inside the gates. However, many surf industry executives and potential investors were invited to watch. Musician Eddie Vedder performed for attendees and binoculars were provided for people to watch the surf action close-up.
Making Waves in the Industry
For many who attended, they witnessed an event that could change the nature of the sport forever. The day the contest took place, most California breaks were seeing waves that were only 1 to 2 feet. But, Surf Ranch was firing consistent hollow, long waves that were described as a “mix of what surfers would encounter at surf spots like Trestles, mixed with Snapper, mixed with the Mentawais Islands.” The wave at Surf Ranch offers different sections to allow for barrel riding or aerial tricks. And, the water is consistently warm enough for surfers to ride without wetsuits. Many were amazed that new making waves that mimicked the best ocean break around the world was possible.
Most attending the event left excited about the potential for consistent waves and surf opportunities for those who do not live on the coast.
Doug Palladini, global president for the surf and shoe brand Vans shared with OCR his thoughts:
“When you think about how long that wave is, these guys are riding this wave for 40 seconds. There aren’t many places in the world you can get a ride that long.”
When the best surfers in the world are getting excited about these waves, he says, “I can only imagine what it will mean for the rest of us when we get to partake. It’s a game-changer.”
An Amazing Opportunity
For decades, wave pools have existed, but none have been able to mimic the wave surfers long to ride in the ocean. KSWC Surf Ranch offer’s the first wave to offer the feel of the ocean. While some surfers still argue that a man-made wave takes away the unpredictability of wave choice that is an appeal to so many, many others see this technology as a huge potential to expand the sport around the world.
“This new opportunity takes nothing away from the organic, natural surfing environment. This doesn’t take way from a great day at your local break,” said Palladini. “This just adds a new layer on top of it. It’s different and new and interesting, without taking away from what exists today.”
For him the one main challenge is making it affordable to the masses. Like snowboarding and the high cost of lift tickets, many could not afford a cost of $100 per wave.
“It would be great to see this awe-inspiring wave they’ve created that millions of people can experience.” Palladini said.
Meanwhile, so many see the immediate potential for a training ground. This perfect timing in light of surfing debuting as an Olympic sport in 2020.