Where it’s always safe to go back in the water
I'm not really a fan of the whole wave pool concept. Having said that, I have yet to surf in Kelly's pool. I haven’t surfed any other wave pools that have come of late, from the Wavegarden to the Cove to Urbnsurf. When it comes to tubs, I have only surfed at the Wadi Park in Dubai and found it mildly fun.
The whole thing is so foreign to so many old school surfers who are intrinsically wired to surf in the ocean. The ocean is the only thing that seems the right thing to do, and even when it is flat, and there is no surf around, going to a wave pool or a wave loch or something seems somehow alien.
"It's not surfing,” you want to shout out, but you don't. If you do, you will run the very high risk of a whole segment of the surfing population looking at you, rolling eyes dryly and saying 'OK Boomer,' in unison. Counter-intuitively, you could lose all smattering of respect that you have ever had as a surfer by not embracing tubs.
It's not about their respect really, as self-respect is the most important. Still, the public ignominy of being told: "OK Boomer" is far from cool. It speaks of a person who is old and close-minded and resistant to change. It's also a simple way to tell old people to fuck off because they are totally irrelevant.
Being irrelevant is one of the biggest fears people have, and it's one of the reasons why Kelly keeps on keeping on and reinventing himself over and over.
After initially being pooh-poohed and laughed at, the Wave Pool race is now very relevant, and with the sudden movements at Surf Lakes and with the media behind things like Beast Mode at Urbnsurf, the wave pool option is proving to be more and more popular.
When I was at Wadi Adventure, it cost me a fortune to get to the pool in the middle of the desert. It cost an incredible amount in taxi fees, board hire fees and refreshments in the bar afterwards. My reward was a shit green board and five waves of which I blew the first take-off, and my left was a fading piece of junk. While the Wave Pool pull factors of improving wave quality and size, as well as the frequency of waves and safety (No flesh-eating amoebas), are significant, the push factors right now are actually greater.
Would you choose small onshore east coast waves with a good chance of shark activity, or a fast and exciting surf in a wave pool, catching so many waves, having fun and chilling around the tank afterwards? Hanging in a safe environment and sinking a few beers has got to be better than surfing shit-scared and not being able to take your kids into the water.
Who knows why the sharks are around, and why they have moved? Who knows what drives them to different corners of the Australian coastline? No matter how much money is thrown at the researchers and conservation organisations, they can't ascertain exact data as to movements, or numbers. There are probably just too many factors at play. These include all sorts of human interventions like climate change and pollution to name two; all of which skew any kind of data collating.
What is clear though, is where they are at the moment, and I wouldn't want to be paddling out at D-Bah or Snapper with mine or any of my friends’ kids, and taking a chance of going for a surf. There might be so many people laughing at the statistics right now. You know that tedious drill, that you have more chance of dying by a falling coconut or by drowning in your own bath, but what if you do become a shark statistic? I don't bath, I shower, and I haven't walked under a coconut-bearing palm tree once this year, nor last year as far as I can recall, but I do surf. Statistics are weighted.
With the threat of sharks not going away, the ongoing COVID-related travel restrictions hanging around, and the increased quality of waves in all sorts of wave pools, it might be time to turn, to embrace the future, and to buy a couple of season tickets for yourself and the family at a wave pool/garden/cove/loch/ranch near you. At least you will know the only thing with fins in the water is the board you are riding.