As we draw closer to the first official wave pool stop on the Championship Tour, it is apparent that we are in an fast-changing surf landscape. While our daily lives on a whole are changing even more rapidly due to technology, surfers too are facing a world in which places and ways to surf are ever expanding.
An argument could be made that surfing is more than just the act of riding a wave - think of any session you’ve had, and ultimately you spend more time paddling around, bobbing, waiting and searching than you do physically riding your board on a wave.
With many of those rituals removed in wave pools like the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch, surfers must now address where wave pools fall in the grand scheme of the surfing realm.
The Outline recently hosted an episode of their podcast “The Dispatch” that aimed to discuss these very topics. Host Aaron Edwards brought on lifelong surfer and English Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, Aaron Colton, to talk about wave pools.
Colton gives some background on wave pools and their place in the surf world, and their exponential growth and ascension in recent years.
“If I start riding these things, am I still a surfer?” Colton asks on the podcast, as part of his philosophical meanderings on this issue.
He goes on to break down some of the effects that wave pools and their increased use will have: the meaning of surfing, who is considered a surfer, what will it do to crowds in the ocean and other questions surfers will have to wrestle with on a personal basis as we dive deeper into the wave pool era.
“Even the harshest critics of artificial waves, if given the opportunity, would get on a plane to the Central Valley and go surf this thing,” Colton admits, which is surely the sentiment of any surfer no matter their feelings on wave pools. If you have seen footage of it you ultimately want to feel what it would be like to ride a truly perfect wave.
The philosophizing about what wave pools mean within surfing has only begun. And no matter your position on them, you cannot deny that surfing will change in one way or another because of them. At the end of the day, it’s still all about riding waves, right?
Read more about wave pools from ASN