Surfing as a sport has always been a meditative and active way to cleanse one’s mind. Waiting for the perfect swell and epic break is just as big of a part as the skill of the surfer’s ride – a give and take, love and hate relationship. Since the development of wave pools, waiting and praying for waves is no longer an issue. One can surf an endless wave with the illusion of going down the line while remaining stagnant in a five-by-10-foot wave pool. This surfing advancement has almost separated itself completely with new riders going “pro” while riding the artificial wave. Whether or not the riders can be labeled surfers is definitely in question, but one must acknowledge the artificial wave is growing in number and the sport is taking off exponentially.
The limited availability of coastal swell has always kept the sport of surfing to localized places around continental and island borders. With wave pools, this is no longer the case. Now even inlanders, with no prior coastal knowledge, can tap into the stoke only a surfer can truly experience.
Bruce McFarland of American Wave Machines spoke about how the sport is progressing during the Groundswell Society’s annual convention at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. McFarland revealed just how rapidly the sport is progressing, noting that backyard wave pools are no longer on the drawing board, but have begun installation in many areas. At the moment, the only thing keeping backyard waves off the market is the expense of installation, but finding a means of reducing costs is currently in progress. McFarland says it is not a question as to whether or not these pools will be seen in the common household, only a matter of how many more months we have to wait. He noted that the older generation that brought surfing to life stands firmly behind the advancement of wave pools, as many are not as fortunate to still live along the Cali coast – and they want to see surfing continue to grow across the globe at any cost. With this sure way to finance the sport, McFarland revealed that artificial wave riding will be mainstream soon, showing up in the average backyard sooner than we realize.
The American Wave Machine also acknowledged the fact that wave parks, in the near future, will be just as prevalent as skate parks are today. With 10 different waves peeling all at once, our children will be able to pick and choose the perfect wave. Practice at these parks will make for effortless wave riding, but the question of whether these skills will translate over to ocean wave riding success is difficult to answer.
The variation between surfing and artificial wave riding is great; they are separate skills requiring different performance boards and techniques. It is up to your personal discretion whether you embrace artificial wave riding, but there is no doubt that the sport will be showing up in parks and back yards for the next generation.