Welcome To Surfing In The Olympic Pool
By Col Bernasconi | 31 July 2012
A pretty exciting image from Webber Wave Pools (note Olympic rings top right). Pic: Curtesy of WWP
Watching a sport like basketball at the Olympics with different umpires adjudicating with varying interpretations of the rules is bad enough. Foul here, no foul there; it’s a lottery. And if some short, bald ref from Detroit Michigan is being labelled inconsistent wait till the IOC meet Mother Nature! In a nutshell that crazy little thing called luck doesn’t bode well for the Olympic Games and competitive surfing in the ocean has it in spades.
Don’t get me wrong; I get luck, it happens. You lose your sluggo’s when you hit the water for the 100m dog paddle, your horse drowns while playing water polo or like that young Aussie shooter, Alethea Sedgman, you simply sleep in. No wait that last one’s straight up stupidity, not bad luck. Can’t confuse the two. Did you see that girl before she shot her first target? An official told her it was time and she nodded then rested her head on her gun sight like she was having a power nap. No wonder she’s a crack shot – her heart rate must be a 30 beats-per-minute or something?
Either way Olympic sports have gods of good and bad luck both pushing and pulling the tides of play, even on the level playing fields. Heck the “smart pools” the Olympic swimmers compete in nowadays (as opposed to the old “dumb pools” they used to swim in) have special gutters, lane markers and engineered proportions to keep the water surface as smooth as, well, as smooth as the genitalia of those swimmers competing in them. No one likes to be hit in the face by wash (or a rogue pubic hair) while going for gold.
Basically my point is this; surfing in the ocean is too unpredictable an undertaking to even be considered for Olympic recognition. Imagine the final meeting when the I.S.A (the International Surfing Association who are most vocal surfing body lobbying the International Olympic Committee in hope of inclusion), sits face-to-face with some IOC fogie who asks, “So what happens, young man, when an athlete is needing an eight point ride with ten minutes to go and the ocean goes flat?” “Umm?” Insert the sound of crickets HERE. The room falls silent and everybody hears the pin drop. CRASH!
No mainstream sports media company is going to endure a sport that guarantees to deliver equal dead air and action. While we, the hardcore surfing fanatics, love every wacky idiosyncrasy of our beloved wave riding shenanigans, Joe Blow from the street isn’t going to applaud a surfer for playing the patience game. Hello!
There will be a time when surfing becomes an Olympic sport and for better or worse it will be a completely different animal than the one we know today. Mother Nature (bless her soul) will be dumped on the side of the road like that moody ex-fiancé you finally broke up with after she cancelled your planned nuptials – twice!
Hopefully the next time the Olympics roll around in 2016 the Webber Wave Pools and Kelly Slater Wave Company bobbins of this world will have finally got their full scaled wave creating contraptions up and running and which ever camp has the best model (or wheel greasing skills) will build a pond for the IOC that, like the half pipe in the Winter Olympics, allows for thousands of fans to be perched in stands just metres away. The waves will pound out with metronomic consistency and while surfing purists around the world spit venom on their hand held digital soap boxes in disgust, the global masses will tune in and lap up a new era where surf stars have the ability to bust out inverted 720s, double back flips and 20 foot high Christ Airs to the sounds of Black Sabbath.
Then and only then will surfing become a Summer Olympic sport.