Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch to Host Top Level Surfing Competition in May

AP Leo Correa
AP Photo/Leo Correa

No one in Kings County, California, will have to worry about traveling to see the greatest surfers in the world this summer. That’s because the greatest surfers in the world will be coming to Kings County.

According to the World Surf League, the best competitors in the world will descend on Kings County in May for a star-studded competition at Kelly Slater’s artificial wave pool on Lemoore.

Slater’s wave pool should provide plenty of excitement and adversity for the competitors considering it was designed by the world’s best surfer, and an aerospace engineer.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Slater, the 11-time world champion considered the best of all time, spent 10 years working with a USC aerospace engineer to design a perfect wave, peeling 700 yards along a recontoured water ski lake. Videos of the wave, with hollow barrel sections and open faces to do aerials and cutbacks, have captivated the surfing world since the first one appeared in December 2015. But only a select few have been invited to see it, much less ride it.”

One of the few who has seen the pool, Surfer Magazine Editor Steve Hawk, was at no loss for words when describing the pool to the Times in 2016.

“A wave of that shape sits in the subconsciousness of every surfer in the world. That wave is exactly the fantasy wave I drew on the margins of my notebooks when I was in high school.”

The competition, titled the Founders’ Cup of Surfing, will be held from May 5-6, and marks the first time that Slater’s Surf Ranch will be open to the public. Though, surfing won’t be the only activity going on during the two-day competition. Organizers at the Surf Ranch want guests to know that the event will have “a festival backdrop honoring the culture of surfing — food, music, beverage, art and special guests will all be on site for enjoyment.”

With so many surfers coming from so many different parts of the world, the competition will have an Olympic feel to it. Surfers from the United States, Europe, Brazil, and Australia, will be grouped into 5-person teams consisting of three men and two women. Another team will represent surfers from other popular surfing destinations, such as South Africa and Japan.

As the Los Angeles Times explains:

Global teams of engineers and surfers are vying to build artificial wave pools that can produce high-quality waves that come in rapid enough succession to create an economically viable surf amusement park. An obstacle has been energy use and the length of time the water needs to settle after a wave rolls through before the next one can come.

At a contest, this is less of an issue because of the small number of surfers in the water. And the bonus for contest organizers: the mood swings of nature are mostly out of the equation; no need to wait for distant storms to produce ocean swells. Barring mechanical failure, perfect waves will be coming on May 5.

If all goes well, the competition could be the first of many at the Surf Ranch.

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