Expect A WSL Wave Pool Event Next May

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John Florence at last week’s Surf Ranch event | Image source: planetblueactionsports2016.wordpress.com

The WSL called last Tuesday’s competition at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch “The Test,” which naturally raises the question, when can we expect the real thing?

The New York Times has released a report forecasting the anticipated event for May next year. This tentative scheduling was confirmed by Tracks Magazine when they spoke with Dave Prodan, WSL’s Senior Vice President of Global Brand Identity. More details, he said, are to be released in the coming weeks when the 2018 CT calendar comes out.

Wave pools could have huge impact on professional surfing. Competitions can be scheduled to start at a specific time, on guaranteed quality waves, without concern about the fickleness of Mother Nature. This would be good for broadcast networks and more attractive to advertisers. One of the problems of the WSL has been making money off competitive surfing. With wave pools in the picture, that could change.

On the other hand, with pro surfers surfing the exact same wave under the exact same, predictable conditions, could the entertainment value of professional surfing suffer in a wave pool setting? Will competitions still attract viewers, or will the CT lose a good portion of its target audience?

When WSL Holdings took ownership of the Kelly Slater Wave Company in May of last year, it seemed a sign of things to come, a sign now seeming even clearer with last week’s test comp at the Surf Ranch and the confirmed 2018 event. Whether it bodes ill or well for the future of pro surfing is a question still up in the air.

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