Surfing Wave Pools Can Cure You of Existential Horrors | Read the story ‘The Surfer’s Journal’ rejected!
It’d be a dream to surf Kelly Slater’s wave pool wouldn’t it. You’d think the surf media – if they can be called that – would have been given first cracks at the thing. Spread the word, etc. But no. They didn’t even get an invite to the first contest there. In a story that The Surfers Journal didn’t want to publish, perhaps due to the fact that it’s coming out months and months too late, surf journalist extraordinaire Nick Carroll writes about his experience at the wave and how it may have cured him from an existential horror. If we can’t surf it we may as well get perspectives on it from those that have and take a futurist view of its effects on surfing.
Some were frothing, others wary, if not cynical. “What if it’s a set-up?” muttered my buddy Sean Doherty. “Revenge for us all slagging it off so hard? What if Kelly just wants to wait till we’re in position, then send an eight-foot bomb from nowhere and humiliate us all?”
Me, I was conflicted. Frothing, yeah, of course I was frothing — when it comes to surfing, that’s almost my entire emotional range. There was some resentment too, left over from the way this Pool had been pitched into all our lives, yet simultaneously denied to us: all those clips I was now re-watching in preparation, so neatly edited, so hollow and glistening, and so totally unavailable.
But further down, a part of me was agitated, fearful of a simple yet awful possibility: that the Pool wasn’t just good, but better than good, so good, in fact, that it would outdo any normal surf experience. None of the surfers I’d talked to who’d ridden it seemed to be able to give me a clear take; most seemed slightly baffled, as if they’d seen something outside their surfing imaginations. So the fear persisted. If humans had indeed made a wave that outdid Nature, then might it not be the beginning of the end of History? The very idea of surfing, the sheer joy and freedom that somehow made it through the cultural membrane from Polynesia to the West and survived every indignity we’d managed to throw at it, would just disappear, replaced by a turnstile and a ticket. The final triumph of Western civilization: pay-per-wave.