Are the surf contests of the future destined to be in wave pools?

Lisa Andersen thinks wave pool contests may have a future

Words by Sam Haddad

It’s day three of the inaugural Roxy Pro Biarritz and the contest has been postponed until 730 am tomorrow, with only three heats run so far. A combination of a lack of swell, localised pollution caused by the insane levels of rain, and, bizarrely, a beach load of killer jellyfish showing up is to blame. And though jellyfish show up once in a blue moon here, delays are not unusual on the ASP Women’s World Tour, nor the men’s for the matter. The Roxy Jam ASP Women’s longboard contest, which became the Pro when the shortboard girls were added this year, has mostly been blessed with good waves in recent years but planning a surf contest is always going to be at the mercy of mother nature’s whim.

I interviewed Steph Gilmore recently, who was once quoted as saying she’d love to have an event named after her in a wave pool in Madison Square Gardens. She explained that, “It’s just me being envious of the tennis players and the other sports stars who have set schedules for their events. They show up and have all these people in the stadium watching them but on the tour you’re not going to show up at 11am on the Sunday and have pumping 6 foot waves. You’ll never be able to recreate what the ocean can deliver but why not try it out.”

And this morning when I spoke to surf legend Lisa Andersen and the pioneer of Roxy Europe Maritxu Darrigand, as horizontal lines of rain flashed past our window, they both could see a future where artificial waves played a part in some, though not all, of the tour events. My gut instinct is that it isn’t in keeping with the spirit of the surfing but then watching the girls wait around this arvo, I could imagine how damn frustrating it was for them all and it did occur to me that few other sports are so dependent on the weather.

But then the idea of them battling it out in super-controlled conditions on the equivalent of a wave treadmill in a big old stadium doesn’t exactly get my heart pumping. Maybe we just need mother nature to sort it out and give us some sweet conditions tomorrow. We’ve all been recycling lots, using the same cups and sprinkling sawdust after using the eco toilets, that must deserve some payback right?

Keep checking and for live updates. Next call is 730am Thursday


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