Surf Park Magazine : Vol. 1

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pg.34 Pope Francis and the Power of Stoke pg.42

Vol. 1 | Sept. 2016

Is Kelly Slater the Steve Jobs of Surfing?


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Cover Photo & Below: Kelly Slater Wave Co./Glaser

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L etter from the Ed itor Put Another Quarter In

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Surf Park I nd ustry R eview 10 Most Common Development Questions By: John Luff

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Competition Surf Parks and the Olympic Movement By: Sean Brody

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Gall ery The Best Surf Park Images to Date

3 4 Global Pope Francis and the Power of Stoke By: Sean Brody 4 2

Busin ess Is Kelly Slater the Steve Jobs of Surfing? By: Ken Lewis & Sean Brody

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I nnovation Trace: Upping the Ante for Surf Coaching By: Ken Lewis

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Eyes O n Mo Rhama: Dubai’s First Big Wave Surfer

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T he surf park exp erience For Seasoned Pros and Average Joes By: Dr. Jess Ponting

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Did You Know Surf Parks vs. Golf Courses

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Historic Mo ments Remembering Ocean Dome

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S u rf Pa r k Ma ga zine E D I TOR-IN -CH IEF Sean Brody A rt DIRECTOR Miles Cartwright C reativ e D I R E C TOR & DES IGN Daniel Hopkins I llustrations Steve Romero C ON T R I BU TIN G AUTH ORS Ken Lewis

Dr. Jess Ponting John Luff

Images Kelly Slater Wave Co./Todd Glaser

Globe/DJ Struntz Surf Snowdonia American Wave Machines Red Bull Media House Waterman League Scholas Occurrentes Surf Resource Network Richard Kotch John Luff Roberto Zamalloa Andel Alecho Surfing Life Australia/Andrew Shield Surf Loch LLC Murphy’s Waves International Surfing Association

A DV E RTIS IN G S ALES PUBLIS H ER Surf Education Academy M EDIA PARTN ER Surf Park Central

© 2016 Surf Education Academy. All trademarks belong to their respective owners. All rights reserved. Some materials used under license, with all rights reserved by licensor.

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Photo: Kelly Slater Wave Co./Glaser

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L E T T ER FRO M TH E E D I T O R “ Put a n ot her q ua rter i n.”

Surfers from around the world use this euphemism to humor each other when the waves simply seem to stop coming in, with the notion that, like an arcade game or a merry-go-round, you could add another quarter to the machine and the fun would instantaneously start again. I have heard this clever line in nearly every country I have surfed in, as this fantasy has played out in the wild imaginations of surfers of all ages and nationalities. “You should have been here yesterday.” This infamous friendly taunt is synonymous with not being at the right place at the right time. Finding pristine surf conditions comes down to part local knowledge, a lot of science, and a bit of luck- and if you fail to find the waves you are looking for, friends and strangers alike won’t hesitate to let you know that you just barely missed what you were after. The quest for flawless waves without a drop of water out of place, one after another, is surfing’s Holy Grail. This concept has been celebrated as a reoccurring theme throughout the history of surf media. Take Bruce Brown’s depiction of South Africa’s Cape St. Francis for example, in his 1966 iconic film, The Endless Summer. The idea that you could stumble across seemingly endless sand dunes and be rewarded with perfect, machine-like, empty waves resonates with something deep inside every surfer’s core. In fact, this scene sparked a global pilgrimage that, to this day, still has surfers wandering the globe with the goal of being at the right place, at the right time- when all of the variables to create perfect surf conditions come together. Even when you use local knowledge and available science to make your best predictions for winds, swell size, swell direction, intervals, tides, bottom contours, etc., it still takes a bit of luck to find good waves and light crowds.

As a group, surfers have historically spent a great deal of time searching for perfect surf and learning what variables have to line up to recreate those conditions. Surfers are constantly on the lookout for other waves that have similar qualities, but with less people. Now, with surf park and wave pool technology, not only can we replicate and control these variables, bringing perfect surf to the doorsteps of surfers around the world, but now we can introduce the sport to regions where the concept of surfing was previously unimaginable. The search for surfing’s Holy Grail has led to the birth of a new industry, the Surf Park Industry. The technology to create perfect waves and bring the sport and lifestyle of surfing, coupled with authentic surf culture, to destinations around the world without coastlines is a major game-changer and presents exponential opportunity for the progression of the sport and the forging of new business endeavors. In addition to major surf industry players in the game, like Kelly Slater Wave Co. and the World Surf League, the space is a booming landscape for nonendemic surf brands and businesses. The doors have been flung wide open for established best practices and entrepreneurs alike. Developers, real estate agencies, investors, banks, tech companies, research institutions, scientists, amusement parks, hotels, multisport complexes, you name it. The opportunities are endless and what we have witnessed to date is just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come in the Surf Park Industry. There is an old saying that goes, “It is ‘science fiction’ until it is proven true. Then it is ‘science’.” The ability to create perfect, peeling, replicable waves out of ocean was once a concept reserved strictly for the realms of science fiction, but now it is just science. We no longer have to humor each other by saying, “put another quarter in,” or taunt each other by claiming, “you should have been here yesterday.” The ability to serve up perfect waves on demand is here and now you can, quite literally, put another quarter in.

- Sean Brody Editor-in-Chief

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INdustry review


A future full of surf parks and man-made waves is nearly upon us. With several new venues having opened over the past two years and many more coming on line in the near future; it is now, more so than ever, becoming a relevant topic in today’s destination development conversations. The state of surf pools and man-made wave technology is evolving at a rapidly increasing pace throughout the world and within the next five to ten years there may very well be surf parks and man-made surfing destinations in many major cities throughout the world. As President and founder of Surf Park Central and Co-Founder and Managing Director of Surf Park Solutions, John Luff is always on the move. He constantly has his finger on the pulse of the surf park industry and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things surfing outside the ocean. Luff typically keeps his trade secrets close to the vest, but fortunately for surf park Magazine, he has been kind enough to shed some light on the ten most frequently asked questions when it comes to breathing life into a Surf Park project.

1. Wh y Surf Pa rks? Surf parks are ideal sports, leisure and entertainment anchors for hotels, resorts, shopping centers, entertainment districts and sports parks, but can also work as stand-alone venues. Using less space, less water and requiring far less maintenance than a ski resort or golf course, but with a much greater appeal and focus on surfing and the beach lifestyle environment. Surf parks serve to create a unique real estate development initiative that will stand well clear of 
the competition, increase the geographical reach of the available market and increase overall demand, price and sales rates for new property developments. Centered around large surf pools
and man-made surfing lagoons, surf parks are commercial venues offering better waves than those in the ocean
the majority of the time. These include beaches, crystal clear waters, bars and restaurants, retail, outdoor event space, hotels, spas, gyms, athlete training facilities, ancillary sports and significant expansion possibilities. Surf parks are designed to accommodate global events and, in addition to being used on a daily basis by the local populations, they will also rank amongst the most

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Photos: Surf snowdonia

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iconic and marketable tourist attractions, giving a boost to the real estate in the immediate vicinity, and to the image, economy and sporting level of the regions and countries in which they are located.
Even though wave pools capable of producing waves suitable for surfing have been around since the late 1960s, when Phil Dexter revealed Big Surf Arizona to the world; it’s only been in the past few years that dedicated surf parks have begun to enter the realm of viable business opportunities. A variety of surf venues featuring a broad range of wave generating technology types have opened for business over the past two to three years. The largest of these, Surf Snowdonia in the UK, opened last Fall and is now in its first full season
of operation. There are currently several more under development domestically including Doug Coors’s NLand Surf Park set to open in Austin, Texas
this spring. Globally there is significant activity with projects in various phases of development in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, Thailand, South Korea, the UAE and beyond. This does not even begin to take into account all of the projects early in the conceptualization/planning stages that are still flying under the radar. To put it simply, the surf park industry is gaining momentum and already making waves available to people around the world in places far beyond the oceans and coasts.

2. W h at h a s r e cen t ly ch a n ge d t h at m a k es no w a go o d t i m e t o d e velop a m a n -m a d e surf f e at u r e / v e n u e ? There are a variety of factors that make now the best time in history to begin development on man-made surf destinations. Between the International Surfing Association’s big push for Olympic Surfing, made official in August of this year, to the experience driven economy that is changing the way people spend money,

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Image: American Wave Machines Perfect Swell ®

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now is the time.

4. What i s the demographi c profi le of the average surfer and surf park customer s ?

The advances and innovations that have been made in the wave technology sector over the past few years were in large part made possible by the correlating advances in computing power. With wave technology companies now having access to reasonably priced computing power they are able to simulate, test and rapidly innovate their new wave generating technology and pool/lagoon designs. This has led to some of the best man-made waves the world has ever seen being brought to the market in the past six months.

3 . W h y a r e n ’t t h ere a lre a dy
d ozen s or h u n d r e d s of surf pa rks in e x ist en ce around t h e w o r l d t oday? There are many reasons that could be listed here, although it is worth noting that perhaps the two biggest factors that to a certain degree run in parallel. As of today there is still no dedicated surf park venue on the planet featuring a large wave/surf pool capable of generating a full spectrum of waves ranging from beginner (1-2’) to the professional/elite level (6’-8’+) that has proven the long-term economic viability of these types of projects. Once we begin to see the current generation of surf parks continue to be developed and achieve stabilized (and profitable) operations you will soon see surf parks being developed in major markets on a global scale. Perhaps one of, if not the largest, variables at play here that has enabled a profitable surf park business model is the technology innovations in the wave generating sector that have taken place over the past few years. While not every business model can support every wave technology, there are certainly several that should work quite well, as long as these surf pools and man-made surfing lakes are able to perform to the level their manufacturers are promising.

Surfing is an interesting recreational pursuit/sport when evaluating the demographics, as it encompasses people from both genders and nearly every age, nationality, religion, ethnicity and culture. In the U.S., the common surfer has a median age of 34 years old, household income exceeding $75,000 USD and a willingness to travel significant distances in search of waves. On a ‘per-surf ’ basis the average U.S. surfer is spending nearly $40 per session chasing waves found in nature. When we begin to take into account demographics specific to surf park customers, what we often find is that it is a very broad spectrum. The ages vary greatly and oftentimes you will see three generations participating and sharing waves simultaneously within a single surf session. The majority of the customer base within
a surf park is made up of first-time beginners to beginner/intermediate surfing ability levels. This is generally rounded out with both the local/destination crowd and membership base that have more advanced surfing skills and desire larger, more high performance waves.

5. How much land i s requi red / how mu c h space do I need for a wave machi ne, su r f p o o l or man-made surfi ng lake? This is a question with a broad range of potential answers which ultimately depends on the vision of the developer/investment group and the potential constraints of site size and the project budget. If you are taking into account only
the wave machine/surf pool size this can range in space allocations comparable to a tennis court (2,000+ square feet) to that of over 10 foot- ball fields (57,600

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Evan Geiselman, Photo: Red Bull Media House

square feet each) and nearly anything in between.

7. What i s the best busi ness model?

6. W h at a r e t h e ca pita l require m en t s? How much i s i t go i n g t o c ost t o build ?

Depending on what the surrounding real estate currently is (hospitality, retail, residential, sports park, etc.) or what the proposed master plan calls for there are several models that can perform well depending on the developers/investors definition of success. Developing the appropriate size and type of venue will depend upon a variety of factors that will ultimately need to be explored and discussed in detail prior to committing to a specific business model.

With a large range of wave generating technologies, manufacturers and overall man-made wave system sizes, there are a correspondingly large range in overall capital requirements. When assessing the landscape of wave technology choices capable of delivering waves suitable for surfing it is also important to take into consideration the capital/ cost implications of delivering different types of surfing experiences. For example: If you want to build a standing wave/ stationary wave machine this can be achieved within budgets ranging from +/- $1m to $3m USD. If you are looking to build a world class surf pool/man-made surfing lake this will likely require investments ranging from +/$10m - $25m and beyond. With this in mind, it is good to understand that a surfing feature/attraction is capital intensive and will require investment levels ranging from $1m-$25m+++.

If you are a municipal or government entity your definition of success is likely different than that of a private development investment group. There are several ways and operating models in which you can design and build a surf park facility that earns revenues exceeding the operations/maintenance costs while still providing a positive socioeconomic impact.

8. I s our ci ty/market a good candi date fo r a surf park? Determining the feasibility and economic viability of developing a surf park is serious business. Prior to making

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major decisions on wave technology choice, size of the surf feature and the overall amenity offering there should be a focus on market re- search and gaining a clearer understanding of what the market can sustain. It is also important to take into account the local, regional, domestic and international destination appeal of your venue if designed, built and marketed appropriately. If you are looking to draw a significant amount of your customer base from distances far and wide this needs to be a clear goal from the outset and made known to your entire project team from day one of your feasibility and planning process.

9. W h at i s t h e opt im a l feat ure a n d a m eni ty mi x w i t h i n a s u r f pa rk ?

of your venue. Variables at play include the market you are in, the primary customers you will be targeting, the capacity of your venue and the estimated average amount of time people will be spending on your property. The feature and amenity mix can vary greatly depending on the property type and the overall business model. Generally speaking, the primary elements include a surfing feature, food & beverage component, retail space and supporting facilities (admin, restrooms, locker rooms, etc.) If it is a larger venue and the owner/investor group is looking for a greater destination appeal then the necessity of a broader amenity/attraction mix comes into play.

This is one of the most important questions when it comes to the conceptualization, planning and design

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10. W hat a r e t h e k e y posit ion s a n d a rea s of ex p e r ti s e t h at a s u rf pa rk project t ea m sh ould be c om p r i s e d o f ? From the outset it is critical to the future of your project to assemble
a team that will give your surf park development the highest likelihood of making the journey from concept to an operationally successful reality.

Now, more so than ever in history, the world is talking about investing in and developing man-made surf destinations. In 2015, more people surfed outside the ocean in pools and on man-made waves than ever before. This is not a fad, it is already proving to be a trend that will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

Key team members may include those with relevant experience in aquatics development, design, architecture, engineering, finance, project management, operations, real estate development and specialty expertise in the planning, development and operations of surf parks and man- made surf venues.

SurfLoch SurfPool ÂŽ Proposed Hotel Venue, Photo: Surf Loch LLC.

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S UR F P AR K S AND T H E O L Y m p I C M OVE M ENT By: S e a n B r o dy Artwork: Steve Romero


n y e ar 1 9 1 2 Duk e K u h anomoku approached the

International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the Stockholm Games with the dream of getting surfing into the Olympics. Over a century later that dream has come true. On August 3, 2016, at the 129th IOC Session in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the IOC voted to include surfing in the Olympic program. Carrying forward the Duke’s mission, the International Surfing Association (ISA) has led the charge towards surfing’s inclusion in the Olympic Games, spearheaded by ISA President, Fernando Aguerre. Decades of lobbying, coupled with the expansion of surfing’s global reach, the sport’s youth appeal, and, most importantly, the technology to create perfect waves out of the ocean, have all come together to make Olympic Surfing possible. There has been a lot of conversation about whether Olympic Surfing will take place in the ocean or at man-made surfing venues. As of September, 2015, the Tokyo 2020 organizers indicated that surfing’s debut into the

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Games will take place in a natural ocean setting, with Chiba as the selected region. However, as technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, the organizers may be tempted to reconsider adding an artificial wave to their Olympic build out. Whether Tokyo 2020 winds up including artificial waves is to be determined, but one thing is certain, the Olympic movement will have to incorporate man-made surfing venues in the future for the following reasons ‌ THE IOC NEEDS OPTIONS One of the major funding mechanisms for the IOC is securing host nation contracts. The IOC typically selects host nations for upcoming Olympic Games seven years prior to the Games. The IOC accepts bids from potential host nations and, like any good business, the more parties interested in hosting the event the better. Many factors are taken into consideration when the IOC selects a host nation, but the IOC needs to keep their options open. They cannot limit their pool of potential host nations to countries that have accessible coastline, world-class waves, and a swell window that coincides with the Summer Olympic Games. Although surfing in the Tokyo 2020 games is currently planned for the ocean, the clear recommendation for nations bidding to host future Olympic Games is to include a viable surf park model in the plans for development, which should not be a tough sell considering the cost of developing a surf park

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Image: Webber Wave Pools

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(approx. $15-20 million) is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of developing your average Olympic Soccer stadium ( approx. $700 million). LEAVING A LEGACY The Olympic Agenda 2020 is the IOC’s roadmap and strategic plan beyond Tokyo 2020 and there is huge emphasis on sustainability, transparency, and leaving a legacy. The addition of a surf park to an Olympic build out allows the IOC to leave a viable business in the host city, unlike many of the other Olympic build outs, which can often turn into Olympic ghost towns when the

games leave town. the Olympic Agenda 2020 stresses that the IOC will, “ensure post Games monitoring of the Games legacy with the support of the National Olympic Committees and external organizations.” Additionally, the document states that, “Sustainability and Legacy (are) to be further positioned as an executive priority.” The ability to introduce a relatively low cost investment for use during the Games that can also be monetized after the Games is very appealing to the IOC and host nations alike.

Photo: ISA

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CONTEST FORMAT PACKAGEABLE FOR TV Another major revenue stream for the IOC is selling the television and media rights to the Olympic Games. The 2012 Olympic Games in London where broadcast by NBC, who paid a reported 1.2 Billion for the American broadcast rights to the games. Surf contests, as we know them today, make a game of cricket look short. With that said, what makes the experience of ocean surfing so unique

is that so many variables have to come together to intercept a high quality wave on its way towards shore, but the effort is worth the reward. However, predicting these variables for the purposes of competition is no easy feat and, furthermore, high quality surf only comes when there is decent swell activity, can be effected by other variables like tide and wind, and usually only lasts a few days. The ability to control the surf variables is a game changer for the surf competition format. What we will likely see is a transition to an event that more closely resembles an Olympic Snowboarding, event than a traditional ocean surfing competition, with a few waves to create your highest score. All competitors will be surfing identical waves, which takes wave selection out of the judging criteria and eliminates the waiting between waves, making a surf competition much easier to package for TV. The concept of setting aside a window of dates for an event which could start at any time, otherwise known as a “holding period,” is foreign to most other sports, as it is much easier for broadcasting companies to obtain maximum viewership with a set starting date and time. FAN EXPERIENCE Surf Parks will forever change the ways that fans will be able to experience surfing. The days of staring through binoculars to catch a fuzzy glimpse of your favorite surfer are over. Stadium seating, jumbo-trons with instant replay, sky boxes with gourmet tapas and craft beer on tap, and live music are just a few of the amenities that will complement the live viewing experience for surf spectators everywhere. The IOC and host nations need to monetize ticket sales as

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well, which is hard to do when a surfing competition takes place at a public beach. Surf parks can provide a stadium or amphitheater approach to monetizing the audience and curating their experience surfing. MEDIA PRODUCTION Broadcasting a surfing competition is no easy production. To deliver compelling footage involves a large media budget, specialized technology for live streaming from the beach and in the water, and a highly experienced team of watermen to capture the right moments from the right angles. Surf parks are virtually aquatic film studios and offer the opportunity to effortlessly document every wave from a variety of angles, while being able to control the surf conditions, adjust the lighting, and get as creative as imaginable. With the IOC’s emphasis on ramping up youth engagement, Surf parks have all the elements needed to produce stimulating media and capture the short attention spans of today’s generation. HIGH PERFORMANCE DEVELOPMENT I once was scolded by a nine-year-old girl for saying, “practice makes perfect.” She quickly corrected me and stood her ground, “practice makes better.” Either way, whether you get better or you get perfect, surf parks will help. A surf park gives a surfer the ability to practice the same maneuver on the same wave over and over again, committing body mechanics to muscle memory. Additionally, it has been proven that this muscle memory translates directly to ocean surfing. Undoubtedly, any surfer with their sites on the Olympic Games

will need to train at a surf park to hold their own against other Olympic hopefuls. In other sports, Olympic athletes have access to high performance training centers and Olympic Surfing will be no different. To date, the Hurley High Performance Center on the Gold Coast of Australia is viewed as a best practice for athletes serious about surfing development. Although the center is located directly in front of the Superbank, home to some of the best right hand point breaks in the world, it could be argued that the center is incomplete without a man-mad wave, because even the Superbank does not break perfectly all year round. Surf parks foster high performance development and will be essential in the creation of future world champions and Olympic medalists. It is well known that the best way to develop champions is to develop youth programming. National Surfing Federations across the globe know this and will have the unique challenge of convincing their National Olympic Committees and Ministries of Sport to set aside funds for the development of youth surfing programs and will potentially be vying for highe performance centers with manmade waves.

CONTINUED GROWTH The Olympic rings logo is one of the most iconic logos in the world. Surf parks can help bring surfing to parts of the world with no coastline and this will help the IOC and the International Surfing Association (ISA) maintain the continued growth of surfing’s global participation. The concept of, “if you build it, they will come” is alive and well in regards to surf parks; historically we have seen that where surf parks get built, surf culture follows. These new surf communities, equipped with waves and culture, drive the growth of the sport and could potentially produce the next Kelly Slater. MULTI-SPORT GAMES With the sport of surfing now officially recognized as an Olympic sport there has been a lot of discussion about Tokyo 2020. However, there has not been a lot of chatter about the significance that getting the nod from the IOC has on surfing’s inclusion in other huge international multi-sport games, beyond the Olympics. Other multi-sport events have dabbled with surfing in the past, like the 2008 Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia and the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia. However, most large multi-sport events in the Olympic family

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typically look to the Olympics for guidance on which sports are eligible to include. Once the concept of Olympic Surfing started to gain traction, the invites to other games, where surfing was previously excluded, began to trickle in. Surfing will now be included in the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru and also the first ever World Beach Games, slated for 2019 in San Diego, California. The opportunities for athletes to represent their nations at a plethora of international multi-sport events will further create the demand for more man-made waves.











WHY SURF PARKS? Surf Parks are ideal sports, leisure and entertainments anchors for hotels, resorts, and shopping centers, and also work as stand alone venues. They require less space, water, and maintenance than a ski resort or golf course, but have even greater appeal. Surf Parks make iconic and marketable tourist and sporting attractions. WHAT WE DO Surf Park Solutions is a collective of surf park professionals who understand that surfing is one of the world’s most aspirational sports and that access to quality surfing experiences makes any community a better place to live. From 1,000 square feet to half a million plus, every project has it’s own unique fingerprint. We bring unparalleled independence, expertise and experience to the conceptualization, planning, programming, design, finance, development, operation and marketing of surf parks.

Learn more and contact us at

G A L L e Ry

T h e B e S T S U R F PA R K I m A G e S TO dAT e

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Above, Photo: AWm Left & Below, dion Agius, Photo: Globe/Struntz

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Albee Layer, Photo: Surf Snowdownia

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Kai Lenny, Photo: Water

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Photo: Surf Snowdownia

Hiroto Arai, Photo: Red Bull Media House

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Nicole Pacelli, Photo: Water

Photos: Kelly Slater Wave Co./Glaser

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S UR F P AR K M A G A Z I NE : VO L U M E ONE i s d e d i c a t e d t o S a m D a y 6/23/2001 — 8/27/2016 Sam Day will forever be remembered as the inspiration for the Junior Seau Foundation Adaptive Surfing Program, presented by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and his legacy of pure stoke and unparalleled bravery will live on for years to come through this program, helping many other kids experience the joys of surfing, no matter the challenges they may face.

To help more kids facing hardships experience the joys of surfing support the Challenged Athletes Foundation at

w w w.c h a l l e n g e d at h l e t e s .o r g

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POPE FRANCIS & THE POWER OF STOKE By: Sean Brody Surfing and stoke are no longer limited to coastal communities and there is a big push to bring the surfing experience, coupled with the sporting values and active surf culture, to nations and regions away from the coast. With the International Olympic Committee approving the sport of surfing for the Olympic Games, the technology to bring surfing everywhere, and now the support and enthusiasm of the Pope, surfing outside the ocean is poised for massive global expansion. The sport of surfing is becoming available to more participants and greater audiences and, due to this, the surf park industry is able to attract the involvement of non-endemic surfing brands and big corporations alike. There is an abundance of opportunity in out of ocean surfing experiences and this is being recognized at the highest levels. In May, 2016, Surf Park Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Sean Brody, was invited to Vatican City in Italy, along with Co-Founder of Kwepunha Retreat, Daniel Hopkins, to attend the Global Congress for Peace for Pope Francis’ foundation, Scholas Occurrentes, to deliver the Pope his first surfboard and discuss how surfing can be used as a conduit for peace and cultural interaction. Brody recounts the surreal experience exclusively for Surf Park Magazine‌

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Photo: Scholas Occurentes

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We think what we are doing is cool, so we just keep doing it. Most people don’t get it though. However, Pope Francis, he gets it. In 2010 my good friend and fellow ambassador of stoke, Daniel Hopkins, and I headed off to horizons unknown with the intentions of starting a program that uses surfing as a tool to help drive and promote youth education in Liberia, West Africa. Daniel and I spent some time in a small fishing village called Robertsport near the northern border of the country, close to Sierra Leone, and during our stay we forged incredible bonds with the locals from the village. We discussed our ideas for using the sport of surfing to keep kids in school and out of trouble and we were eventually invited by the chief of the village to start a program of this nature. Our goals for Kwepunha Retreat were very straightforward… (1) Add value to the local economy by creating jobs, driving tourism, and encouraging spending with local entrepreneurs (2) Protect the environment and endangered species by supporting initiatives, programs, and best practices (3) Preserve the local culture by educating guests and integrating local customs, meals, art, etc. into programming and guest experiences. (In fact, the word “kwepunha” means “big sea wave come” and is derived from the West African dialect of Vai, which is prevalent in the community of Robertsport.) and (4) Developing the sport of surfing as a positive activity for the youth by providing safe afterschool programming and incentivizing students to stay in school by having access to surfboads and programs. We experienced moments of amazing triumph, but not without our fair share of humbling challenges. With that said, from 2011 to 2014 we hosted guests from more than 40 different nations across the world and were featured by major global media outlets, such as The New York Times, BBC, CNN, Time Magazine, Lonely Planet and other influential publications. With the support of the international surf community and the expatriate community in Liberia we were able get upwards of 75 Liberians (men, women, and children) in the water

surfing and, ultimately, having a positive and healthy pastime to focus on. Things were trending up for us and we were beginning to adapt to our unique challenge of living and operating in Liberia, while dealing with the negative stigma of the nation that is known for civil unrest, not beautiful white sand beaches and epic, machine-like point breaks. We were slowly starting to change the public image of Liberia from child soldiers to child surfers and the number of guests coming to visit Robertsport was showing a beautiful hockey stick of growth with accompanying economic stimulation for the community. Then in March of 2014 Ebola hit hard and devastated the region. A lack of education about Ebola, both from the locals and the expatriates, coupled with a slow response from the Liberian government and the international community as a whole, plus the global media’s need to hype negativity and promote fear, all fueled the fire and things got out of hand quickly. During this trying time we made a concerted effort to prevent Ebola from coming to our village of Robertsport by hosting a fundraiser to support our staff and keep our community safe. We raised funds through the support of family, friends, and the global surf community and were able to pay the salaries of our staff, whose families depended on the income, although there was no tourism to support the business at the time. Additionally, we also raised funds to pay for 20 college educated Liberians to visit our community and go door to door, speaking with their fellow Liberians about the danger of Ebola and the preventative measures that needed to be taken in order to effectively contain the epidemic. Clear communication, Liberian to Liberian, was a vital part of the preventative strategy for Robertsport and we are proud to say that there were no reported cases of Ebola in our community.

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Photo: Surf Resource Network

Photo: Scholas Occurentes

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When the Ebola epidemic was contained and the World Health Organization deemed it safe to travel back to Liberia, although Ebola was officially gone, the stigma remained. With that said, surfers were the first tourists to return to Liberia. The draw of perfect waves, warm water year round, friendly locals, true adventure and guaranteed empty lineups (the same recipe that surf parks serve up) make Liberia an ideal destination for today’s surf adventurer. Kwepunha Retreat and the community of Robertsport are slowly starting to see surf tourism return, but there is a long way to go to climb back from the devastating toll that Ebola took on the region and it’s reputation.

exercise and arrived at the following conclusion… Worst case scenario, we get to go to Italy! So we took a gamble on the opportunity panning out and decided it was time to learn how to properly order a cappuccino, because we were Italy-bound. We quickly informed the Scholas Occurrentes Pontifical Foundation via a Skype conversation that we would be honored to join them. Before saying our good-byes I gathered my nerve and spoke up, “would it be ok if we brought the Pope a surfboard?” I was sure the answer

and trying to find our way to Vatican City. The thick, massive walls that surround Vatican City, with their carefully positioned archer slots and sheer magnitude, would be quite intimidating for unwanted visitors; I was glad we were on the list.

would most definitely be “no”, but I was pleasantly surprised when they loved the idea and responded by exclaiming, “bring two! One for him and one for him to sign!”

In the Spring of 2016, Daniel and I were contacted by the Scholas Occurrentes Pontifical Foundation, a foundation started by Pope Francis, with a unique request. The mission of Scholas Occurentes is to use sports, arts, and technology for peace and cultural interaction and they, nonchalantly, asked if we had any interest in coming to the Vatican to the Global Congress for Peace to talk about Surfing as a tool for improving lives. At this point, the conversation seemed about as far fetched as an email from a Nigerian princess offering me access to her riches. Needless to say, I was sure I was being scammed, I just wasn’t sure how yet.

With limited time before our

a conduit for peace and cultural interaction. This program brings together students from all over the world to participate in activities and discussions that address global problems at a local level, helping to cultivate community leaders. Our

We ran the whole scenario through the tried and true “risk vs. reward”

departure we had to come up with two new surfboards and thought it would be a great touch to get the logo of Scholas Occurrentes added to the boards. We contacted our good friend, Eric “Bird” Huffman, at Bird’s Surf Shed in San Diego and informed him of the surreal task at hand, “as a connoisseur of surfboard design, what surfboard would you recommend for the Pope?” I questioned Bird. A few days later Bird had a pair of pearly white surfboards with freshly sprayed Scholas Occurrentes logos ready to be hand delivered to the Pope. Shortly thereafter, Daniel and I found ourselves cruising through the streets of Rome decked out in our finest suits, lugging around a surfboard bag,

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We found our way to LUMSA University, located just adjacent to the Vatican City wall, where Daniel and I spoke to youth from five different continents, participating in the Scholas Citizenship Program, about how surfing can be used as

presentation about surfing really resonated with the young and lively audience and we ended by sharing the “surfing symbol for peace”- the shaka. For the following two days of the Global Congress for Peace we had kids from all over the world throwing us shakas and, more importantly, throwing shakas to each other. Day three of the Congress was the main event. It was completely surreal, this was the day we were scheduled to meet the Pope to talk about surfing as a tool for peace, and no one had scammed us yet. Everything was actually happening according to plan, despite how crazy it all sounded over the internet. The auditorium was packed with more than 400 guests

from around the world, with translators for upwards of five languages. As Daniel and I were escorted in, surfboards in hand, we were led to our seats towards the front of the room. We shuffled down aisles and past rows of reserved seats with names taped to them, “George Clooney”, the tape read, a few more steps down the row, “Selma Hayek”, and a few more seats away “Richard Gere”- all known for their philanthropic endeavors towards peace. We were ushered a bit further along until we came across two seats with the words “surfer” taped to them. We couldn’t help but smirk as we awkwardly nestled the surfboards on their rails behind our legs and sat down, waiting for our turn to be summoned to meet the Pope.

wife’s lap. The rest happened so fast, but if felt like it took place in slow motion.

It should be noted that the Global Congress for Peace had little to do with religion and everything to do with being good to one and other. A plethora of world religions were represented at the congress, as well as atheists and agnostics, all uniting around the common theme that sports, arts, and technology can lead to a more peaceful world. The afternoon was filled with inspiring and emotional testimonials from youth from all over the globe and world leaders alike. It is true what they say, Pope Francis really is a cool Pope. He is an impressive and charismatic individual who cares deeply for people from all walks of life and when you listen to him speak in person you can truly feel the passion in his words. He is honest and sincere, as well as optimistic and forward thinking. When Pope Francis started the Scholas Occurrentes Pontifical Foundation in 2014 he knew the path to a brighter global future is through empowering the youth and that the best way to engage the youth is through sports, arts, and technology.

the surfers of the world and he flashed us an ear-to-ear grin of excitement. We then presented him with the second surfboard and asked if he would please sign it for the surfers of the world, which he gladly obliged. I took a few moments to share with the audience how surfing is a common equalizer that knows no borders, religions, or political affiliations and how the global surf community is

After what seemed like an eternity Daniel and I were called to approach center stage, address the audience, and greet the pope. I glanced at Daniel and he shot me back an, “is this real!?” look. I shrugged, equally astonished, as I heard a squawk from the back of the auditorium and I glanced up to see my 11-month old daughter amongst the crowd, grinning at me from my

As we reached the center of the room, surfboards in hand, we greeted the Pope. His eyes were youthful and full of intrigue, his demeanor was calm and welcoming, and his ability to hone in on you as an individual, in a room filled with people, is unparalleled. Daniel addressed the Pope and thanked him for his inspiration and support of the transformative power of sports, such as surfing. The Pope nodded and listened intently and then we had the honor of presenting him with his very first surfboard. His eyes grew wide with excitement as I handed him the surfboard. “For me?” he questioned us. We reassured him that, yes, the surfboard was in fact for him as a gift from

one big family. We thanked the Pope for the opportunity and the audience for their attention and found our way back to our seats. Then Pope Francis delivered a moving speech, tying together the themes of the three-day congress and giving a particular nod to the concept of surfing for peace. Upon returning home a friend asked me, “what memory stuck with you most from the whole experience?” I paused to reflect for just a brief moment and then replied, “honestly, the Pope was truly stoked.” Like any grom getting their first surfboard, new or used, anywhere in the world, the expression is the same… jaw dropped, eye brows raised high in excitement, and wearing a sense of awe. Pope Francis had that exact same look. With that said, beyond being stoked on his first surfboard, Pope Francis gets it. He gets how surfing can be used to strengthen communities, improve lives, and break down barriers.

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Liberias Second Surfer, Benjamin McCrumada, Photo: Brody

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Before leaving Vatican City, Daniel and I signed a collaboration agreement between Kwepunha Retreat/Surf Resource Liberia and Scholas Occurrentes Pontifical Foundation, to work together towards our common goals of using the sport of surfing to improve lives. We are now in the early stages of designing a collaboration program called Scholas Surf and we look forward to growing a network of participants and beneficiaries from surf communities across the world. We are forever humbled and honored for the opportunity to represent the global surf community for this significant event in surfing history, however, what we are most excited about is what this meeting symbolizes and all of the positive things to come from this interaction. The ramifications of having the transformative power of surfing, and the role of surfers as community leaders, recognized by major world leaders, such as the Pope, is quite a leap from the prior public image of surfers, which is most often associated with the Spicoli-esque personas that roll out of vans in thick clouds of smoke. This is a big deal. Over the past few decades we have seen a vast transformation in public opinion of surfers, from beach bums to role models, and the fact that two chairs in the audience of the Global Congress for Peace were reserved for “surfers” speaks volumes. We ended our presentation to Pope Francis by saying, “there are really only two types of people in the world… those who surf and those who want to surf,” and we invited everyone to join the family of international surfers. With wave pool and surf park

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technology, there will continue to be exponential opportunity for those that want to indulge in the surfing experience, the fun-loving culture, and the positive benefits associated with our favorite pastime. To see the surfboard that Pope Francis blessed and signed visit Bird’s Surf Shed in San Diego, California. All donations will go to support the community of Robertsport, Liberia. Additionally, a fundraiser is currently being organized for Winter 2016 to benefit the Liberian Surfing Federation. Stay tuned for more information on the Scholas Surf program. For information about Scholas Occurrentes: For information about Surf Resource Network: For information about Kwepunha Retreat:


T h e career o f a p ro f essi o n a l su r f er typ ically starts as a preteen a n d o f ten c o m es to a sc reeching h al t s o mewh ere i n th e m i d -twen ti es. Only the s av v i es t are m a rk eta bl e b eyo n d th e p eaks of their co mp eti t i ve c a reer s. Wh i l e m a ny to p surfer s craft an ad mi r abl e ex i t str ateg y a n d l a n d h i g hly sought after gi gs i n t h e su r f i n d u str y, o th er s simply fade away. O ver th e d ec a d es th at I h ave b een a surfer I h ave wi tn esse d my f avo r i te su r f i n g i c o ns make th e tr an s i ti o n f ro m th e l i m el i g h t o f p rofessional s ur fi n g an d g et c reati ve to a d d a f ew more year s o f l o n gev i ty to th ei r c a reer s. To m C u r ren played gui tar, D o n avo n g rew a mu sta ch e, a n d O ccy went Danc i ng w i t h t he S t ars. N ow I ’ m w atch i n g Kel l y Sl ater b eg i n his transition. M y yo u th w a s at ta ch ed to h i m th ro u g h his video p ar ts, s tar ti n g w i th th e 1 9 9 0 f i l m , K e l l y Slater In Bl ack and W hi t e . Wh i l e I h ave n ever fo r mally met Kel l y, I k new m o re a b o u t h i m th a n m o s t fans should b ecaus e we sh a re so m e mu tu a l f r i en d s; I heard th e s to r i es a n d g o ssi p a n d I g o bbl ed i t up with a g ro mmet’s en th u si a sm . Sl ater sh owed u s surfing co u l d b e m o re th a n we ever i m a g i n ed , tearing up th e bl u e p r i n ts a n d rew r i ti n g wh at w a s possible, and s o o n al l o f u s were p ro g ressi n g w i th h i m to thank. I t i s a wel l-k n ow n f a c t th at Sl ater i s o ne of the mo s t i mpressi ve ath l etes i n h i sto r y. Wi th undeniable s tati s ti cs, li ke b ei n g p ro f essi o n a l su r f i ng’s youngest wo rl d ch am p i o n ever at a g e 2 0 a n d a l so surfing’s o l d es t wo rl d ch a m p i o n ever at a g e 3 9 , his prowess as a co mpeti to r i s fo rever c e m en ted i n to surfing’s

histor y books. However, one thing I never s p ent much time thinking about was how this tas tem ak er to the Taylor Steele generation was going to begin his transition from surfing’s g reates t hero to surfing’s g reatest entre preneur. For dec ad es, it appeared that Kelly would one day shift his las erbeam focus from winning contests to winning in the boardroom at his beloved umbrella spons or, Q uiksilver. To ever yone’s sur prise, that never happened. To say we were all shocked when we heard that Kelly Slater would no long er b e associated with the brand on A pril 1st, 2 014, is an under statement. As Slater distanced himself from his past (Q uiksilver, Channel I slands) and embrac ed a new look of logo-less boards, sponsor ship rum or s were the talk of the indust r y and we all wondered what path he would choose. Slater was pre pared even if we were not. Slater has had entre preneurial endeavor s in the past, such as his surf accessor y line, Kom mu nity, but the announcement of his partner ship w ith the Kering Group was a bit of a sur prise as we f ir s t heard about Slater’s vent ure into clothing b rand owner ship with O uterknown. T his model of m ak ing clothing with a conscience is something that has become a large part of the moder n day Kelly Slater. O uterknown’s code of conduct is a testament to today’s generation of forward-thinking cons u m er s and reads as follows: “We’re committed to d oing ever ything we can to minimize our impac ts on the environment and improve the conditions and q u ality of life in the communities where we live and work .” W hile some critics blasted the brand and its p rod u c t

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Artwork: Steve Romero

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Photo: Kelly Slater Wave Co.

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pr i ci n g, o th er s were q u i c k to p o i n t o u t th at this was no ord i n ar y s u r f br a n d a n d rem i n d ed th e m a ny naysayer s that i t i s n o t j u s t fo r su r f er s; Ou terk n ow n i s fo r ind i v i dual s wh o li k e si m p l e a n d c o m fo r ta bl e a pparel and al i gn wi th the b el i ef s o f th e b r a n d . Wi th that, the br an d fo un d i ts n i ch e. Sl ater qui ck l y fo ll owed u p th at n ew s by sn atching up a maj o r s tak e i n F i rew i re su r f b o a rd s, a b r a n d he had h is eye o n fo r s o m e ti m e. H e th en a n n o u n c ed his own sign atu re b o ard la b el , Sl ater D esi g n s, th at would be pro duced th ro u gh F i rew i re. A s ex p ec ted , th e Slater Des i gn s s u r f b o ard s a re f l yi n g o f f th e r a c ks. I f all this wa s n’t en o ugh , h e d ove i n to th e mu l ti -b i l l i o n dollar bever age wo rl d i n 2 0 1 4 , a n d sta r ted a h ea l thy energ y dr i n k cal l ed Pu r p s. Wh i l e a l l th i s n ew s w a s j u icy fod d er fo r th e messa g e b o a rd s, o n e o f Sl ater ’s longter m, to p s ecret p ro j ec ts w a s a b o u t to b e u nveiled in the d u s ty d e p th s o f C a l i fo r n i a ’s C en tr a l Va l l ey. Steve Jo bs f amo u sl y to l d B u si n e ssWe e k i n a n i nterview in M ay o f 1 9 9 8 , “A l o t o f ti m es, p eo p l e d o n’t know what th ey wan t u n ti l yo u sh ow i t to th em , ” a nd he wa s a mark eti n g g en i u s wh en i t c a m e to rel easing n ew p ro ducts. H i s A p p l e c o nven ti o n s b ec a m e full bl own l aun ch p arti es a s h e g ave th e wo rl d a g limpse at h i s l ates t g ro u n d b rea ki n g en d eavo r s. T h e iPod. T h e i Pad. T h e M a c B o o k. Peo p l e i n sta n tl y n eeded to h ave wh at th ey d i d n’t even k n ow ex i sted . Slater too k a page o ut o f Jo b s’ b o o k a n d i n l ate D ecember of 2 0 1 5 , th e s ur f wo rl d h a d to c o l l ec ti vel y p i c k their jaws u p o f f th e f l o o r wh en th e sn ea k p ea k o f Kelly Sl ater Wave Co m p a ny ’s f i r st p er f ec t w ave h i t computer screen s ever y wh ere. T h e w ave b a r rel ed th e l ength of a my s ter i o u s l ago on so m ewh ere i n L em o o re, C alifor nia, and per h ap s D r. Jess Po n ti n g, fo u n d er o f Sa n Diego State U n i ver s i ty ’s C en ter fo r Su r f Resea rch , p ut it bes t wh en h e to l d O u t si de M a g az i n e , “I t w a s the most inc red i bl e b i t o f su r f p o r n o g r a p hy we’d ever seen. I t wa s a o n e v i deo p a r a d i g m sh i f t. ” Like many g reat vi si o n a r i es, i t seem s Kel l y Slater has the abi l i ty to s ee a ro u n d c o r n er s. Wi th th e recent ann o un cemen t that su r f i n g w i l l i n d eed b e a p art of the 2 0 2 0 O l y mp i c s i n Ja p a n , a n d th e p l a n a s it stands today i s to h o s t th e su r f i n g c o m p eti ti o n at a n ocean venu e, we can o n l y sp ec u l ate a s to wh at th e venue will

be like if the host city is away from coastline or ou t of swell season. T he Kelly Slater Wave Company c ou ld not have come at a better time for surfing, for the O lympics, and of cour se, for Kelly. So while I pose the question, is Kelly Slater su rf ing’s Steve Jobs, I take int o consideration that Job s w as, by all accounts, well known for his outlandish tem p er, unreasonable deadlines, brut stubbor nness, and s trong body odor (seriously, during his time at Atari he w as forced to work night shifts alone because, althou gh he was brilliant, his peer s couldn’t stand it). However Steve Jobs was better known for having a vision and the tenacity to bring it to life. Jobs redefined mu ltip le industries, including per sonal computing with the Macintosh, animation with his purchase of Pixar f rom George L ucas, music with iTunes and the iPo d , c ell phones with the iPhone, tablets with the iPad, and he also created the demand for a booming app ind u s tr y. Kelly Slater has already left his mark on several industries and his approach has been from the per spective of a surfer looking to better the su rf ing ex perience and community as a whole. L ong tim e friend and iconic surf film maker, Taylor Steele, comment s that Kelly’s toughest challenges are s till ahead, “Finding the right people with the exp erienc e and passion that each of his companies deserve, yet he will need to guide them. T hat means less s u rf ing and more meetings.” With that said, Slater has b een leading by ex ample for year s, encouraging a healthy lifestyle, being forward thinking about equip m ent, striving for sustainability in apparel production, and meticulously engineering the future of surfing. So when Slater leaked that fir st video clip, the world watched as he pulled into a f lawless tube on a Slater Designs surfboard, hydrated by Pur ps, on a wave produced by the Kelly Slater Wave Company, and his ex it strateg y became clear. Slater has carefully p lotted his cour se and, by the looks of it, is poised to b e m ore successful and inf luential in the nex t two dec ad es than he was in the previous two.

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Photos Courtesy of Trace

When I was a kid, the first time I ever saw a surf coach was when a couple friends of mine had a surf P.E. period in high school. To me, it didn’t make much sense because all they did was go surf together and run stairs if the surf was flat. While the actual coaching part was lax to say the least back then, today surf coaching is not only the norm for many traveling pros, but private coaches are standard issue for the amateur ranks as well. Information is always paramount in any type of coaching scenario, in any sport. In tennis, coaches track racquet speed, ball speed and trajectory to help a player better hone their craft. In surfing, coaching used to consist only of physical training, heat management and strategy, but that has changed now that coaches have access to wave pools and an interesting new device called Trace. Trace is the action sport equivalent of the wildly popular Fitbit device that has been well received by everyone from soccer moms to professional athletes; the difference with Trace is that it’s geared toward action sports, like snowboarding, wakeboarding and surfing. The clever app corresponds with a board-mounted

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device that tracks your session and reports stats in a list of categories such as average distance traveled and calories burned and can also sync with your GoPro to overylay stats in real time. The app also offers insight into the rider’s specific turns and speed achieved on each wave of the session. This information, paired with traditional training techniques, creates a level of insight never before available to surfers. Vern Kotze is a surf coach and current Retail Manager at Surf Snowdonia in Conwy Valley, North Wales. He has seen and applied many techniques to his students in South Africa and France over the years, so I thought I would ask him how using the Trace device, coupled with teaching at a surf park, improves his ability as a surf coach. “I find Trace to be a really good tool,” Kotze said. “Not only do you get to have a diary of all your surfs, it gives you a massive amount of stats and figures, which I really like.” “The beauty of teaching in a controlled atmosphere like Snowdonia,” Kotze added, “is that we have a massive advantage in providing the athlete instant feedback between waves. When I pair that with video of the session, I can sit down with the athlete and talk them through the previous wave, show them the footage and point out things like arm movement, head positioning and technique.” It makes perfect sense. Now more than ever, we are seeing a shift in how surfers will be able to train and learn moving further into the 21st century. Today, a knowledgeable coach armed with experience, information and access to a proper wave pool can usher in a new era of rapid growth with a short learning curve.

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With that in mind, I’ll leave you with these final thoughts from Kotze that hit the nail right on the head. “The biggest plus of Snowdonia is that the athlete can surf the exact same wave every time and can really work on their turns or airs until they perfect it. But having that valuable data that can be used, analyzed and discussed before the next session, that’s the recipe for success. having actual numbers on degrees of the turns makes it so much more accurate, rather than just an educated guess. After we go through it, the surfer can get back in the pool and correct whatever is needed.”

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Dubai ’ s First

B ig W av e Surfer

Mo Rhama is the United Arab Emirates (UAE) first professional surfer and he first blipped on our radar back in 2014 when he represented the UAE in the ISA 50th Anniversary World Surfing Games in Punta Rocas, Peru. He was literally fresh out of the wave pool and straight into pumping eight-foot surf at a world championship surfing event. Essentially, Mo Rhama is Rick Kane

from the classic surf film, “North Shore”, which chronicles the tales of a young up and comer who ventures to Hawaii after learning to surf in a wave pool in Arizona- except for Mo is from Dubai. We literally watched him learn to duck dive by taking set waves on the head and going for broke. Now he is chasing his dream of being the first big wave surfer from the UAE…

Surf Park Magazine recently caught up with Mo, who is stowing away in Dublin waiting for giant swells, and here is what he shared with us.

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Mo Rhama

Y ear s Su r f i n g : 6 Y ear s Su r f i n g i n th e O c ean : 3 Sp o n so r s: Rip Curl, Surf Shop Arabia Favo r i te Su r f er : John John Florence Favo r i te M an eu v er : Working on airs

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How did you get into surfing? Six years ago I was representing the UAE in the Rugby World Cup and I tore my ACL. I was doing some rehabilitation by running along the water’s edge and that is when I saw my first surfboard. I was fascinated. I had the chance to try surfing a few times, but we really only get weak windswell about five or six days a year. So it was not until they opened up Wadi Adventure wave pool (in Dubai) that I really got to surf a lot. That was shortly before the World Surfing Games in 2014 in Peru. That was a big jump in conditions for me! In your opinion, what is the best thing about learning to surf at a surf park before surfing in the ocean? Way less frustrating. No crowds. I managed to progress quickly because there is no intimidation or competition for waves. When I came to California it was really hard to get good waves, with all the hassling and all the crowds. In the surf park you don’t have to think about all that, you just go surfing and focus on practicing your technique. Then when you do get an opportunity to go surf in the ocean you will enjoy it 100 times more. In the UAE we are not that far from great waves you know… six hours by car and we can be in Oman and they have awesome surf. The Maldives is a three-hour flight away and so is Sri Lanka. Secondly, It is harder to see the progress when learning to surf in the ocean, but the learning curve when surfing in a wave pool or surf park is so much quicker! I have been an athlete my whole life and if I don’t see myself progress it can be frustrating and turn me off to a sport. Surf parks help you learn quick because you can practice the same moves or techniques over and over again. Let’s talk about some of your surf training in the ocean, how does what you have learned translate when you go back and surf the wave pool? The ocean surfing helps immensely. When I go back to the wave pool, I know exactly what to look for! I know what I am doing wrong and how to fix it. The wave pool is like the gym for surfers! I can just go train as much as I want to. For example, if I am struggling with my wave count in the ocean it is hard to work on any other skills. I might catch six waves in an ocean surfing session, but when I practice in the pool I can catch closer to 30 waves, so it is a lot easier to practice and progress.

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Do you do video analysis of your surfing? Ya, I film all my sessions in the wave pool. Then I upload and send them to my Surf Coach, Sean Mattison, in Oceanside, California. Then we do a surf coaching session via Skype and review the footage to talk about technique and how I can improve. It is working out well. You are really pushing the envelope as of recent, with the goal of being the first big wave surfer From the uae. Tell me a bit about what you are up to in Ireland. That’s right, I am currently staying in Dublin, this is my second winter here and I have been training with Tom Butler to tow into big waves. I have caught a wave above 30 feet, along with a few heavy wipeouts, but we are going to go for 65 feet. I think we can make it happen. We are just waiting for the right swell here and everyone is so nice and the crowds are light. I love it here!

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How can you train for big waves in the wave pool? Well in about a month or so Tom (Butler) and I are going back to Dubai and will do some practice with the jet ski in the wave pool. We will practice towing into waves, timing, releases and just getting our teamwork dialed in. In big surf you really have to trust your tow partner and so we are going to establish trust and work on mechanics. Think about it‌ you don’t want the only opportunity to practice these essential skills to be in consequential situations! We are going to practice a ton in the wave pool first, so when we are chasing big waves things go smoothly. Now that surfing is officially an Olympic sport, would you like to represent the UAE one day? Oh definitely! Either as an athlete or even as a coach for the next generation of UAE surfers. What advice you do you have to the young up and coming surf groms of the UAE? Take advantage of what we have! The wave pool is a great training platform and surfing is a really fun sport! Start in the wave pool and then you can venture out into the ocean. I am always available to help and give support and I would love to help see surfing embedded into the culture in UAE.

Photo: Zamalloa

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The Surf Park Experience for Seasoned Pros and Average Joes By: Dr. Jess Ponting On August 1st, 2015, Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first commercial surf park using Wavegarden technology, opened to the public. With waist to shoulder high, 17- second, high speed rides it looked way too much fun to ignore. Six weeks later Surf Snowdonia staged the Red Bull Unleashed contest. Twenty four of the world’s best athletes converged in the remote foothills of northern Wales and staged one of the most unique surfing contests ever held, to positive reviews from competitors, spectators, and contest organizers alike. Just three months later, 11x surfing world champion, Kelly Slater, dropped a bomb on the surfing world. A three minute and forty second Instagram video shows an absurdly perfect, barreling wave reeling for forty seconds down the cold, muddy waters of a repurposed private waterski lake in the rural Central Valley of California. A triumph of computational fluid dynamics, Slater spends the better part of a minute stuffed inside a wave of his own creation. Within an hour it has been seen 250,000 times. Within four days more than four million people had viewed it on Facebook alone. The hype in the following weeks was enormous.

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Albee Layer, Photo: Surf Snowdonia

Keen observers will have heard Red Bull Unleashed competitors making favorable comparisons of Surf Snowdonia with Lower Trestles, an enormously fun, but non-life threatening, and rarely barreling wave in Southern California. The hand picked pro surfers who have ridden Kelly’s wave compared it to the Greenmount section of the Superbank on the Gold Coast of Australia. In both Wavegarden and KS Wave Co. facilities you are essentially surfing an incredibly well crafted bow wake. This comes with radically different characteristics than a wave formed from an ocean swell (and those promised by the pneumatic technologies rumored to come online before the end of the year). In this article we seek to uncover what it is really like to surf on these waves? What is the real training potential for these mechanical foil style pools?

What are the implications for surf contests and equipment testing beyond optimistic market forecasts and likes on Facebook? And what could it all mean for average surfers, not just professionals? I contacted two surfers with experience in each pool, but no direct vested interest in either technology. Jarrod Howse is a former world championship tour surfer, former super-coach to Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith and Julian Wilson and athlete manager for Red Bull Unleashed at Surf Snowdonia. Mark Price was ranked 17th in the world in the early 1980s and was runner up in the ‘98 Oxbow Masters World Titles. Mark is also Firewire’s sharp-as-a-whip CEO and a noted sustainability champion. He was also there when Kelly first surfed his wave and had the opportunity to try a few himself. Covering the “average Joe”

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angle, I went to Surf Snowdonia and spent a week getting the full experience, renting wetsuits and boards, staying onsite, and surfing. Jarrod Howse and I had similar first reactions to Surf Snowdonia. “I thought ‘wow, it has happened in my lifetime. They’ve finally built a wave that’s waist to chest high and the world’s best surfers can surf it.” I had a hard time adjusting to the wave at first. I didn’t have the equipment I would have liked on my first session; the board was quite a few liters less than my standard summer surfboard in San Diego, and it was a challenge for me. Similar to ocean surfing, I noticed a lot of average surfers showing up with their pro-inspired, sub six-foot shortboards and having

similar experiences. Missing waves and struggling to make sections, while good surfers were doing just fine. My second session I rode a board with significantly more volume and I had just about as much fun as I’ve ever had in an hour of surfing. The pros that Jarrod corralled for the Red Bull Contest had no challenges getting acclimated to the foreign wave. Jarrod elaborates on how the pros dealt with the differences in buoyancy and the perks of testing equipment in a surf park. “Interestingly enough, Every single competitor showed up with an epoxy surfboard in their board bag, but they all ended up on their regular polyurethane shortboards that they would typically ride in the ocean.” “The wave is good for a specialty event or a junior event and it could work for all levels of coaching, especially for particular kinds of waves. I’d be working on boards for Lowers or possibly Snapper. If you’re practicing a frontside hack, you know that you can do four or five on one wave, and theoretically catch 20 of those waves in half an hour. That is a great thing for coaching and it is great for testing boards.” Few people know more about testing boards than Mark Price. Firewire produces in excess of 20,000 boards a year and is known for bringing highly technical experimental shapes to market in partnership with some of the world’s most influential shapers. He also thought the board testing potential of Kelly’s wave was a real significant

addition to the design testers arsenal. “Sometimes it can take us three or four months to get adequate testing data on a particular model because the ocean doesn’t cooperate. To the extent that you can generate waves on command, and perhaps more importantly, generate the same wave over and over in a repeatable way, it opens incredible possibilities to refine existing design parameters and create new ones. I think its going to be a very important area for the refinement of surfboard design. I see wave pools as an addition to, not a replacement of or a subtraction from, the existing surfing experience. You would never just test boards only in a pool, but its definitely going to supplement and improve your testing in conjunction with the ocean.” Kelly makes surfing his wave look so easy in his infamous video clip, but the wave definitely appears to be on the high performance end of the spectrum, which makes it a dream for polished surfers and a great milestone for those still developing and refining their skills. Mark was one of the chosen few who was there in November, 2015, when Kelly first flipped the switch and he shared his first experience. “I was fortunate to get a call and I just mad dogged it up there in my car. I got three waves. The first two waves I was too casual and kooked it a bit. On my third wave I managed to do three of four really good top turns and then nose-dived coming off the top. It’s a challenging wave, but it has evolved tremendously since then and from a thrill/stoke perspective it was one of the best waves I’ve caught in my life!”

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Surf Snowdonia and KS Wave Co. technology both feature a central pier and one of the perks to a central structure is that it can allow spectators to be incredibly close to the action. Combined with bleachers installed at each end of the pool, the central pier at Surf Snowdonia allowed the Red Bull Unleashed Contest to create a stadium around the wave that compelled the crowd to do “the wave” as if it were a baseball game or soccer match. Jarrod elaborates. “The stadium atmosphere and experience that it can create was, to me, the most amazing thing. As competitors we feed off that interaction with the crowd and having them so close you could actually speak to them, high five them after a wave. Some guys were signing autographs in-between waves…I had tingles thinking about the possibilities of the future.” The dynamics of these waves are different to ocean waves, but experienced surfers can learn to compensate quickly. Jarrod makes a good point about the need for training for those surfers that will eventually be making the transition in the other direction, from the surf park to the ocean. “I think the transition from ocean to pool is a lot easier, you’re going to get the hang of it in two waves time if you are a good surfer. When a kid who has only ever surfed in a surf pool jumps in the ocean, I don’t think he’s going to have the paddle strength, he’s not going to have ever been held down, and he’s only going to have surfed a wave at one size. There will need to be a lot of practice to gain ocean experience to complement existing surfing

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Dr. Ponting Soul Arch, Photo: Luff

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Did you know?

On average, it takes more water to operate a golf course than a surf park. Photo: Redbull Media House

Photo: CC

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H Ist o r i c M o m e nt s

Photo:Surfing Life Australia/ Shield

Remembering Ocean Dome

The Seagaia Ocean Dome first opened it’s doors in 1993 in Miyazaki, Japan and the surfing world got a glimpse into a crystal ball, as the facility foreshadowed the potential of wave pools and surf parks to come. Ocean Dome was one of the world’s largest indoor waterparks, held the Guinness World Record for largest retractable roof, and was decked out with artificial sand, a maze of waterslides, and a full-on flame spewing volcano. Most importantly, the Ocean Dome brought the idea of actually getting barreled in a wave pool to life and, in turn, attracted the likes of top global surfers. Benji Weatherly, Mitch Coleburn, Owen Right, and Julian Wilson (to name a few) all traveled to Japan to partake in the splendor of getting spit out of man-made, turquoise tubes. This project was fun while it lasted, however, the challenges of operating an artificial beach 300 meters away from an actual beach eventually caught up with the Ocean Dome. Annual visitor numbers peaked in 1995, and the Ocean Dome eventually closed it’s doors on October 1, 2007, citing “renovation and rebranding.” And so goes the story of the Ocean Dome. Another fun wave added to the “extinct” list, alongside many ocean waves that no longer break for one reason or another. With that said, it was not an entire loss, as the Ocean Dome fueled the fire for what is now believed possible when it comes to creating out of ocean surfing experiences.

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