I was talking to Shane Dorian on Saturday. He had dropped round my joint for a beer, bringing eight wild boar carcasses to roast on a bonfire.*

The first clips of Albee Layer and his mates at Waco had just dropped and our conversation inevitably turned to wave pools. “I think they offered that technology to Kelly for his wave, but it was completely untested,” Dorian said. “They just had a tiny model, that was it. It was way too early to back at that stage.” 

You wonder if Kelly might now be kicking himself. “Kelly’s wave is just too fast. When they slow it down it will be epic,” reckoned Shano. “Right now it’s a bit like J-Bay, you are always racing down the line to make sure you don’t miss the next section. That makes it hard to open up anywhere near the lip.”

The Waco Pool doesn’t have that issue. The wave is generated using 24 ten-feet-wide air chambers that can be fired in any infinite unique sequences. The air moves the water into waves, while the gates on chambers can be further adjusted to create different angles, as well as ramps and wedges. 

Shane Dorian doesn't mind getting air beneath his board, the only difference is he does it at the top of a Jaws bomb! WSL/Cestari

“It’s a game changer, all of these new waves are,” said Shane. “Imagine a kid my son’s age. You’d get a year pass for a thousand bucks or whatever. There’s no wind, tide, swell or crowds to deal with. They’ll be getting 100 waves a day, every day. Have you ever been to skate comps lately? The best skaters in the world are groms. You’ll see a tiny 12-year-old on the podium next to 25-year-old man. That’s what will happen with surfing.” 

“But what about when they go to the ocean?” I pondered, “Surely they won’t be able to cope with the sheer randomness of it all?” Shane didn’t agree. He often doesn’t agree with me. “No, I reckon these kids will nail it. Surfing a wave, is still surfing a wave. By the time they get to the ocean they would have ridden thousands of waves and be hooked liked the rest of us.” 

His point was proved the next day when Albee Layer dropped a clip of his fully-rotated, no-question-about-it, 540 only days after he been in the pool. It happened that fast. Five hours in man-made waves and he’d nailed the most spins by a surfer ever. Imagine if he’d a stayed a week in Waco. 

It had me thinking about the time I visited the High Performance Centre at Casuarina a few years ago. They had just unveiled their skate ramp to foam pit that had transitions built to mimic that of a wave. Back then it was revolutionary. The idea that surfers could practice their grabs, spins and angles of entry and exit hadn’t really existed before. I watched as Julian Wilson spent two days sweatily performing the same maneuver. Sure he was strapped to a skateboard and landing in blocks of old bed mattress, but at the time that was the best way to manufacture airtime.   

Now, with Kelly and Waco, it all seems so quaintly antiquated. As of the weekend just gone, they would have been better blowing the budget on a fax machine** In the last few days we’ve seen where surfing is headed. These pools are about to push the hyperspeed on progression. Shane Dorian knows it. Now you do too.***

* That’s not true. It was at the launch of the new big-wave documentary he stars in called Vague a Lame. 

** For the kids reading this, this was a machine that transmitted scanned printed material via the telephone. Imagine printing an email, through a landline, and paying five bucks for each one. 

*** You probably knew that anyway.