Details of a revamped tour calendar to come in weeks.
No doubt you saw the footage of Kelly Slater’s invite only wave pool event last week. Dubbed the ‘Future Classic’ it was the first time the wave was showcased in a competitive arena. While Kelly played host, and cut the ribbon by riding the first wave of the day, the WSL brass, potential investors and legends of the sport watched on in awe. Gabriel Medina & Carissa Moore took home honours in the men’s and women’s division respectively.
So now that the WSL has had a dry run the big question is when will there be a main event? Well according to a report from the New York Times, the word is May 2018. Tracks reached out to WSL’s Senior Vice President of Global Brand Identity, Dave Prodan, to confirm the addition of a wave pool event on the CT calendar.
"The WSL plans to have its first public Surf Ranch event next year, tentatively scheduled for May. We look forward to releasing more details when we release the 2018 calendar in the coming weeks."
Prodan told Tracks the May 2018 stop would be a ‘speciality event’ as we eagerly await more details on the specifics of the event and tour after a series of leaks earlier this month. Of the rumoured changes, cutting surfer numbers was one item widely circulated amongst surf media. However, Prodan told Tracks, “No changes to surfer numbers are planned.”
What we do know is that Kelly’s closed door event was without question an advertisement to mainstream media and potential investors with deep pockets. Wave pools are the biggest game changer in pro surfing in that an event can be scheduled in waves nearly identical in size and shape and programmed to break both left and right. For broadcast networks, it means they can finally rely on pro surfing to deliver.
Like every code of football surfing can know kick off at a designated time. Viewers will know exactly when the pool switch is hit, and potential advertisers will be far more confident about the value of investing in air time. Stack the beer fridge and get the boys over, the surfing is on at six. It doesn't only revolutionise the sport it dramatically improves the business model for an organisation that has thus far struggled to make a buck.
Opinions are divided whether Kelly’s event was a good thing for the sport. Wave pools have the potential to affect the future of surfing and it’s the future the WSL are looking to.
In May 2016, WSL Holdings, the parent company of the WSL, announced that it had acquired the Kelly Slater Wave Company for an undisclosed sum. The New York Times put it simply, “The acquisition was a statement: The future of professional surfing would take place on Slater’s wave system.”
Right now, that feels unlikely. But, this event could impact surfing on a global scale. Think about all those inland and landlocked countries wondering whether they could field an Olympic surf team. As he has done throughout his career, Kelly has continued to stay ahead of the curve and in the driver’s seat as he ushers the sport into a new era.