When surfing makes its grand debut into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the setting will very much be sun, sand and sea.
However with poor wave quality or even landlocked countries in the mix for hosting the games, coupled with the explosion of planned wavepools it seems inevitable that the future of Olympic is heading towards chlorine pools rather than swell pumping oceans.
A lot of Olympic teams who aren’t blessed with ideal surf conditions, believe the wavepool technology could be a real game changer for the Olympics, not just in terms of the events themselves, but to actually give them a fighting chance in the Olympics in terms of preparation.
“Soon it will be a fair playing ground for us Brits as we can go and train there all the time” Pro Surfer Jayce Robinson told Wavegarden.
And it seems the Chinese team are of the same opinion: “Now we have this technology where we can make waves that really changes the game, more than anything for training.”
And what happens when the Olympics moves inland? Which is inevitable with the likes of Beijing, Helsinki and Moscow all in the mix as potential Olympic game locations for the future. This is when we may see competitive surfing go the artificial route.
“I am just thinking of the implications for competition, you could have a stadium; you could schedule TV time; people can be right up front next to the breaking wave; and you can see how impressive it is, it’s mind blowing” Surfing America CEO Greg Cruse commented at the Wavegarden.
Recently international surf teams came to train at the Wavegarden Cove in San Sebastian, Spain to see how wave technology might fair as an Olympic stage. The teams were in Europe for the ISA world surfing games when they decided to hit the pool for a training session.
A tool like this is basically indispensable for elite training
Among the teams to test the pool were Spain, China, Japan, USA, Germany, England, Scotland and France.
Overall the surfers were impressed with the technology. “It’s good for training”, Jeremy Flores from the French team told Wavegarden Cove “There are different types of waves so we can practise different manoeuvres. But what’s really nice is that there are lots of waves”.
“A tool like this is basically indispensable for elite training.” The French team manager Stephane Corbinien commented to Wavegarden.
Surfing legend and China’s coach Pete Townsend said “There’s no bigger sports stage in the world than the Olympics. Arguably, when the first gold medals are won in Tokyo, the winners will become the most famous surfers in the world”
For the next few upcoming Olympics, the beach looks set to be the arena for surfing, with Tokyo (2020), Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028) all located near world famous surf spots.
But with the WSL having recently bought up Kelly Slater’s wavepool in Lemoore, California and holding a test event there over the weekend with the first public event proposed for May 2018 it is clear that wavepools will probably change the face of surfing forever.