The “test” event last September at Lemoore, CA was a herald of bigger things to come, as has now been made official. The WSL has formally announced that the 2018 CT will include a stop at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch next September.
In last Friday’s press release WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of the potential for the event to be “something special for both surfers and fans”, a development “completely game-changing for the sport.”
Pro surfers Sage Erickson and Ace Buchan further outlined the positives of the news. Per Sage, “We now have the opportunity to schedule events in advance, guaranteed high-quality waves, fair opportunity for all surfers and a totally new and unique environment for spectators. One of the takeaways from this season’s test event is surfers really have to bring their whole arsenal – forehand, backhand, barrels, turns, airs and timing – to make an impact. It’s going to be incredible.”
Athlete representative Buchan offered the statement, “The Ocean will always be our home, but as we grow, having the opportunity to showcase and share the stoke of surfing to new audiences and schedule with pinpoint accuracy the huge match-ups and drama of the WSL is really exciting.”
If these expectations are realized, by making it possible to schedule and predictably broadcast the action, the Surf Ranch event could be a significant step in making surfing more mainstream. Too, the level playing field could indeed pose a greater challenge to competitors’ skills, requiring them to draw more on their repertoire of moves to boost their scores and making competition more exciting to watch. Both good things, many would say.
Of course, not everyone sees wave pool competitions with such a rosy outlook. Some fans express the view that surfing in a wave pool, without the element of chance that nature offers, is fun to do, less fun to watch. There has been a comparison of wave pool surfing to gymnastics – interesting at first but ultimately boring. Some are of the opinion that the CT event can only bode ill for the financial future of professional surfing.
Only time will tell the outcome of the WSL’s plans. Rest assured, both fans and naysayers will be interested come next September as to the results of the Surf Ranch CT event – whether it is the first of many to come or an experiment gone awry.
Full 2018 CT schedule to be released this week.
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