Why I lost interest in wave pools
- 11 July 2018 | Surfing
Marketing has terrific tools to promote and sell products and services. And today, social networks are great channels to engage with younger or more mature audiences.
From a business perspective, it can be interesting to launch a teaser campaign to build positive anxiety and excitement within your target group.
But you have to do it well. Or, at least, make few or no mistakes. Teasing people too much is a classic mistake, and it often leads to disinterest and indifference.
Everyone has a pain point, and when that stage is reached, there's no way back. People shift from love to hate in a matter of hours or days.
Kelly Slater spent a decade developing his business dream. His vision was to create the ultimate man-made wave; the roller of all rollers, the standard from which everything else is measured.
He needed years to perfect his concept, and millions of dollars to build his glorious wave pool concept. And we have to admit: Slater was successful.
The Floridian kept his secret to himself and rarely talked about it until he announced it to the world, one day after Adriano de Souza won his first world surfing title.
On December 18, 2015, Slater lowered the curtain and presented us with a misty barreling wave that immediately made us dream about riding it.
For many, it was the best wave pool ever built, and it immediately lit the desire to touch it, feel it, and ride it.
Kelly Slater Wave Co. vs. Wavegarden vs. American Wave Machines
Kelly was not alone, though. Spanish engineering company Wavegarden, led by José Manuel Odriozola and Karin Frisch, was already testing its technology and marketing its inland surfing formula for a few years.
Surf Snowdonia, the Welsh surf pool powered by Wavegarden, was the first public facility of its kind to open the doors to the general public. It kicked off operations in August 2015, four months before Slater's grand announcement.
By that time, surfing fans from all around the world had already been filled up with dreamy experiences, and endorsements from the stars of the sport.
"It's the best thing I've ever surfed. It's a wonderful feeling, and the wave is so much fun," pro surfers said as they left the chlorinated water tank.
It's great to hear that for a couple of weeks or months. But as time passes by, we humans want a piece of the cake. And that was forever delayed.
In the meantime, a third reliable player entered the elite market of wave pools. American Wave Machines surprised the world of surfing with an exciting artificial wave concept installed at the BSR Cable Park, in Waco, Texas.
In less than 24 hours, Slater's Surf Ranch - now owned by the World Surf League (WSL) - became a shadow of its former self; the ugly duckling of surf pools. Is that unfair? For sure.
The Narcotizing Dysfunction
In our smartphone-driven world, where we spend a large part of the day looking at our screens, things evolve fast, and the unstoppable flow of comments can rapidly influence our thoughts and opinions.
I've been working in the surf industry for more than a decade now, and I have to admit that I started to lose my interest in wave pools.
Why? I still can't point out a specific reason, but I guess I just saw too many stars having fun, and few common people riding it. And then, you can easily notice that it is all about the money - cashing in from surf contests, one-hour sessions, annual memberships, and daily passes.
At a certain point, it can get a bit irritating watching the famous, the champions, the stars of tennis and golf, the rich, and the privileged getting barreled and making V-signs while they cruise around the private surf pool like if it's the last Coke in the desert.
In communication studies, the narcotizing dysfunction is a theory that states that people become apathetic to a particular issue when mass media inundates them with the same topic over a prolonged period of time.
In a way, that theory applies to the effect wave pools had on me. Each video I saw in the last five years had a negative effect on my desire to test a surf pool.
At the same time, it became wave pools became too predictable, whereas ocean waves will always look different, even in the same spot.
In fact, wave pools may be teaching us, surfers, a valuable lesson - probably, it's all about experiencing the essence of it, and that can only be found in the ocean.
I was never invited to a surf pool, but I slowly lost my interest in artificial waves because they were kept private for a few, and for too long.
Now, I'll just wait for the day one pops out nearby. And then, maybe, I'll give it a try, and admit it is the future of surfing.
Words by Luís MP, executive manager at SurferToday