August flew in quicker than most months and within the first 3 days of the month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a huge milestone for the surfing community. Shidashita Beach in Japan will provide the first opportunity for 40 surfers to battle it out to claim surfing’s first Olympic gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 games.
Many had assumed with the unveiling of Kelly Slater’s secret wave pool, that the future of competition surfing would be held in an arena that would produce perfect waves on cue, ensuring that Mother Nature would not slow down the timeframe of the scheduled event. However, officials have confirmed that the event will be held in the ocean allowing the athlete’s to utilise their ocean sense, tactical skills and surfing ability to move them through the rounds and onto the podium.
Wave Pool History
Wave pools have had a long and expensive history starting in 1927 with the first wave pool built in Budapest. It took another 39 years for Tokyo’s Summerland to provide the first surfable wave, with many attempts thereafter to build the “perfect wave”. In 2015, Wavegarden in Wales opened and the Red Bull Unleashed event brought surfers from around the world to hold a rapid two-day surfing spectacle, crowning Ablee Layer as champion.
2015 closed on a high-note with the announcement through a 3-minute video from Kelly Slater Wave Company that they had created the perfect elite wave. Since then, some of the world’s best surfers have been invited to the man-made wave to hone their technical skills, while showing the world their wave-riding endurance. As Kelly says: “It’s a freak of technology”.
So what will wave pools bring to the sport? What can the sport expect?
- Increasing participation
- Increasing athlete’s levels and the speed in which they learn
- New and improved aerial manoeuvres
- Safety from marine wildlife
One thing that wave-pools won’t teach is patience, reading the waves and being ocean smart. That will only come from sitting out in the ocean, and waiting for Mother Nature to produce the goods.