I figured out the surf contest I would pay good money (relative term) to see.
There's a possibility that I may be attending the WSL's Founder's Cup next month at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch. I'll be attending to help a friend with a product-related project.
I am pretty darn excited—and intrigued—to see this mystical KS Wave Co creation in person.
That said, I admittedly don't really keep up with the WSL.
I don't have a fantasy surf league team, I usually don't know who sits atop the rankings, and I'm not usually tempted to pause in the middle of a work day to live-stream any of the events.
None of that is due to my lack of appreciation for the surfing those guys do, I think it has more to do with the fact that my surfing experience and what I see on the WSL have little in common.
Of course, I still watch the highlights on instagram because out of any event there are a few highlight reel moments that are can't miss worthy.
Undoubtedly, the introduction of a mechanical wave to the pro tour will forever alter the landscape of competitive surfing. It reduces the variables and it takes the x-factor away from one of the most powerful forces on earth—the sea.
For viewers like me who don't feel an especially personal connection to "high performance competitive shortboarding" that chasm is about to get even bigger. The airs will be higher and more technical, and the minutia will be dissected like snowboarding in a halfpipe.
Precision will become the name of the game.
So, how do you add the free-wheeling, loose-groovin, spontaneous element back into the picture?
By removing a key variable...
In this case, we remove the fins.
For those of you who stuck with me this far...
the dream contest that I want to see is a finless, friction-free, jazzy, spontaneous, side-slippin, face-rippin' surf contest held in the shimmering glassy perfection that is Kelly's wave pool.
The world's best surfers competing on finless equipment in a wave that allows ultimate personal expression, without the hindrance of fins—and the expectations of how to surf a wave that go along with them.
It takes the mechanical predictability of the playing surface and adds a healthy dose of imperfect, controlled, wave-sliding. It's simultaneously a step forward embracing the future, and a step backward to the roots of where this sport originated.
One of my favorite surfers these days, Jordan Rodin:Photo: Billy Cervi
Here are the imaginary 2018 invitees:
- Derek Hynd
- John John Florence
- Julian Wilson
- Jordy Smith
- Patrick Gudauskas
- Jordan Ronin
- Ari Browne
- Kai Lenny
- Kyle Kennelly
- Ryan Burch
- Robert Kelly Slater
- Andy Nieblas
- Tom Curren (probably riding a skimboard)
- Dave Rastovich
- The final 4 spots would be voted in by fans
If you're thinking that I've totally lost it, perhaps this high-energy clip of Ari Browne, courtesy of RVCA, will help whet your appetite:
And if you're thinking this is entirely out of the question, the WSL had a twin fin fish expression session at J-Bay last year that was seriously rad. This is just the next, natural step to take.
Here's a clip of Andy Nieblas riding a finless board we built for him way back in 2014:
Andy Nieblas Finless! By Michele Lorusso from Almond Surfboards on Vimeo.
Perhaps the reward for making it to the podium is you get your fins back...?
Or... perhaps it's so much fun for surfer and spectator, that the podium-achievers would decline their fins back.
In honor of this contest concept, here's a piece from the uber-talented Keiron Lewis titled "how I lost my favorite fin". The fin-stealing bird can be the official, or unofficial mascot of the contest.