“Are you not entertained?!”
The World Championship Tour of Surfing is supposed to be, “The Greatest Show On Earth” where the gladiators of surf compete like its bloodsport, hacking and slashing apart the best waves on the planet.
Fighting to the death—last man standing—for the glorious World Title.
Inflicting blunt rail-trauma to unsuspecting wave faces. Flying through the air fins-first at an opponent’s scalp as he paddles back out. Pulling leashes like Lance Burkhart, snaking waves—anything it takes to win.
Instead, Rick Cain gets rewarded World Title points.
The Surf Ranch is far from the Arizona wave pool depicted in the cinematic cult-classic, “North Shore” but the entire WCT event feels like mere theater as opposed to cut-throat competition amongst the world’s most ruthless rippers.
Picture Michel Borez at Lowers, forehand slicing with precision, swinging his sword, displacing enough water to fill the new Surf Ranch pool they’re planning to build on the Goldie.
“In my opinion, I never felt like we should be here as CT surfers,” Michel told The Inertia at last month’s Bathtub Pro in Leemore, California. “To me, no, we need to be in the ocean,” says Bourez. “As a surfer, what you do your whole life is learn from the ocean where the currents go, which wave in the sets is the best one, left, right, then you get here (Surf Ranch) and the only thing you need to focus on is the wave.”
Every wave exactly the same. A mechanically flawless right-hander, alternating from open face to hollow tube back to open face for the end air section. A fat mush-burger for a left. Every wave exactly the same. Spectators watch surfers do copycat carves across the same sections, score identical barrels in the same spots for equal amounts of time, and attempt telegraphed aerial maneuvers. The performances: predictable. The wave—unaffected by tidal swings, wind conditions or swell forecasts—becomes about as much fun to watch as an animatronic country jamboree by “Big Al and the Bears” at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Synthetic surfing on clones causes zero drama nor even a splash of suspense.
It is the unpredictability of ocean waves that brings excitement to surf contests. One could argue that the ever-changing nature of the ocean is the main reason we even pay attention at all.
The lack of scenery in Lemoore is depressing. Waiting in the desert sun for three minutes in between waves is like waiting in line for the port-o-potty at a music festival. By the time the next wave reloads, you’ve begun to smell the bovine bung that surrounds you and regret your decision to come here.
Dear World Surf League, please ditch the desert.
“To be honest, it’s a circus…I have a hard time taking this event seriously,” says Jeremy Flores, 2010 Pipemaster and winner of the last WCT event held in pumping beach break in Hossegor, France.
Bring Back Trestles
Damien Hobgood once called Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California “the most rippable wave on tour.“
Kelly Slater should agree. He won 6 of the 17 surf contests held at Lowers. If Trestles were still on the World Championship Tour, instead of the artificial wave at the Surf Ranch, then King Kelly would probably be much closer to qualifying for the 2020 USA Olympic team.
Ironically, in years past, Lowers has been likened to an artificial wave or wave pool. Due to its playful, forgiving wall, the wave has also been called “a skatepark.”
Lower Trestles is a high-performance surf spot. Its A-frame peak breaks right and left offering long, racy sections that allow the world’s best surfers to build speed, execute innovative maneuvers, punctuate hard turns with brutality and take to the sky for aerial acrobatics.
Lower Trestles: the perfect wave not just for the contestants but the fans as well?
In 2017 the World Surf League removed a natural wonder of a wave, Lower Trestles in San Clemente, from the World Championship Tour.
The Freshwater Pro, held in the desert at Kelly Slater’s artificial wave pool in Lemoore—100 miles from the California coast—replaced it.
Let’s make surfing exciting again; return the gladiators to the arena. Together we can bring surfing back to the ocean.
Let your voice be heard. SIGN THE PETITION below.
Bring Back Lower Trestles to the WCT.
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