Lewis Samuels on Kelly's pool in Esquire

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

For those who haven't got enough of Kelly's Hot Tub, or who perhaps want a different perspective, Lewis Samuels has penned a great longform piece for Esquire magazine that's now available online. Targeted at a mainstream audience there's a lot of character development ("Kelly who?") with few revelations on the tech front, however Samuels puts an artful philosophical spin on the pool and it's affect on him which makes for a great read.

There's a crack of static and then an amplified voice. “One minute!”

I’m sitting on my board in the center of a Popsicle-stick-shaped pool, which stretches nearly the length of seven football fields. The surface of the water is still and dark, a mirror reflecting the morning sky. Suddenly, I hear the banshee-like moan of cable being winched. A blue-canopied train of 150 adjoined truck tires barrels down from the far end of the pool. For a moment I feel the bystander’s urge to move away from danger. But I’ve dreamed of this moment for many months and I hold my ground.

A mirage appears on the horizon: the perfect wave. It builds, then breaks. A lithe, tan, forty-six-year-old surfer springs to his feet and starts effortlessly slithering toward me. It’s his wave—the product of years of research and experimentation, millions of dollars spent in secret. It’s also his sport. Kelly Slater is the undisputed king of surfing, an eleven-time World Surf League champion. His dominance, mastery, and longevity have led some to ask whether Slater is not only the greatest surfer of all time but also the greatest athlete of all time. At the very least, he’s spent his whole life doing things that other people thought impossible. But Slater is human, middle-aged, and surfing with a broken foot, against his doctor’s advice. He falls as the foam washes over him.

I shake off the awe, frantically spin, paddle, and drop into my first inland wave. Perhaps two hundred others—among them current top competitors, billionaires, and celebrities—have felt what I’m feeling.

Historically, good surf has been a reward for the determined, available to anyone willing to suffer enough. The WSL Surf Ranch is 100 percent private, which wouldn’t matter much if the wave sucked. From Big Surf, which opened in 1969 in Tempe, Arizona, to Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon, artificial waves have tended to resemble supersized toilets.

But Slater’s wave does not suck. It has all the qualities of a world-class ocean wave while also being uncannily predictable and endlessly reproducible, unlike any other on earth. The moment Slater unveiled his machine can be considered surfing’s singularity: the day technology surpassed nature.

Read the rest here.

Comments

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 10:25am

Good read. Thanks, Stu.

This rang a bell:
"A good ride in the ocean mixes the adrenaline spike of a hunter’s kill shot with a psilocybin- induced feeling of oneness with the universe. The rarity of these moments makes them that much sweeter. Such waves can be separated by years of patient waiting. In the interim, a surfer hones his or her skills and tracks meteorological conditions, often thinking about little else."

derra83's picture
derra83's picture
derra83 commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 1:30pm

Good article but I dont buy the whole "Kelly is doing it to save his friends in the surf industry" line. The pool project predates the collapse of the surf industry and he's already admitted he built it for selfish reasons. That justification is just an after sales add on to make the side effects more palatable.

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 3:47pm

Gary is a gentleman and thus only reads Esquire for the articles

For your next holiday, why not get all up in Gary?
Gary, Indiana.
Nestled at the tip of Lake Michigan, the best spot for scoring a facey anywhere on the great lakes, Gary's such a delight that once you've come once, you're certain to want to come again.

Mango Carafino's picture
Mango Carafino's picture
Mango Carafino commented Sunday, 13 May 2018 at 6:24am

Kelly Slater has already entered the era of "has been", regardless of high amperage electric consuming wave generating machines in the middle of no where, California. Nature will far outlast the breath of life your articles blow up our asses about surfing in a pool. Great wave or no great wave, you can have it. Andy Irons took Kelly out of the comfort zone back in the day. Kelly responded by not living up to being a true champion in the face of rivaling competition, in the end Kelly publicly cried. Not the makings of a fighter, only a display of pedestal princess. Give the wave pool three years, after that no one will pay the fee to surf it nor pay the electrical bill to run it, will see if Kelly cries again.

What makes surfing great is it is free.
Families can go to the beach to watch the sport for free.
Each wave nature delivers is unpredictable and not designed for profit.

Same pool wave over and over and over again makes for boring and predictable.

Dirks passion for surfing, which was founded in the ocean, makes him the perfect money man to sponsor the new found pool fool venture. Boys club only, bring your soap on a rope with these guys around, its all about the money.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 5:09pm

......so we sink further and further into the spectacle. Everything reduced to imitation and reflection as we get washed into ever shallower water, feeling ever weaker sensations until it is all just VR and synthetic chemicals.

CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 7:01pm

'After Slater won his first world title, his manager at the time contacted Wheaties. He was told they only featured “genuine” athletes. “To them, I was just a beach bum,” according to Slater.'

Ohh noo. Remember that. Here we go again. Athleticism? Oohh nooo.

Poor old slattso. Its enough to kick start the tears. Not one of them fucking lists. Not one. Slattso used to be much more open about them lists. He had a go at the NFL once. Before they told him about 'branding' and stuff, and shut him up.

Seriously though, if it was real, wanting to own that list, why the fuck would you pick surfing. Why would you go surfing to get on a list... of the worlds greatest athletes. Surfing's funny like that. I saw a thunderous world surfing champ go in one of those athletic testing events once, years and years ago. Even occo did better at dancin'.

So, this is the new plan. Fark. Its looking like more tears. Imagine next Olympics, when they announce the 100m heats are on, and, then the final, or, Lebron and the boys have hit the boards for a run.

Wait!!!! Comebaaaaacckkkkk!!!!

Yep. Here we go again.

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 9:03pm

Gary's not quite clear what point you're trying to make, Crypto. all your posts seem to be about different topics, you never seem to discuss the same thing twice!

For your next holiday, why not get all up in Gary?
Gary, Indiana.
Nestled at the tip of Lake Michigan, the best spot for scoring a facey anywhere on the great lakes, Gary's such a delight that once you've come once, you're certain to want to come again.

CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 9:11pm

Maybe ya charged too hard, without even chargin' once too often lil' gazzey. Or maybe one too many wrong turn offs? Or it could be ya still sufferin' the after effects of that almost ride of the century, killer wipeouwt. Blax gets your lot... every time. That's highchairs for ya. Maybe they'll hire one of 'em out to ya, down at young slattso's pond.

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 11:46am

Almighty " Crypto " , punch drunk in a circle ring without a corner to hide in , or friends to man it . Webbers circular wave pool will be more your coloseum Herc , no longer are the hall of mirrors surrounding your workouts enough .
Swinging at shadows , mirage's and anything that moves . Never knowing what its like to swing a surfboard at anything resembling a lip , shouldering a straight legged ride to the channel of life . Your in that channel now aren't you , looking back on all those faceys but now worried of the Abyss below , no more stories of the reef shuddering .
Blood smeared all over his face , just like last weeks egg yoke , festering and rotten .
Always on the wrong end of a long barrel , never looking out through the scope. But now there are lasers and your still stuck on laser zaps .
Its a recurring nightmare , again and again .
Did i mention AGAIN .
Aging is a circle of life for most , but for you its a circle Herc , lathered and sweaty and trying to pump knew life into a weathered and shrunken phallous . Never miss your Target son .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 9:53pm

Gary enjoys your assumption that Gary goes by another name.

Gary is as Gary does.

For your next holiday, why not get all up in Gary?
Gary, Indiana.
Nestled at the tip of Lake Michigan, the best spot for scoring a facey anywhere on the great lakes, Gary's such a delight that once you've come once, you're certain to want to come again.

AaronS's picture
AaronS's picture
AaronS commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 10:18pm

"The moment Slater unveiled his machine can be considered surfing’s singularity: the day technology surpassed nature."

Really? Surely you didn't say that with a straight face.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 11:03pm

Straight face, twisted mind.

CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight commented Friday, 11 May 2018 at 11:00pm

'Gary enjoys your assumption that Gary goes by another name.'

Lil' gazzey... no, no, no!!!? No... lil' gazzey, now you're being even more paranoid as well as afraid!!! At your young yet older, but younger age too!!! You sound wounded even?!!! Really??! Who did you think I was talking about as you savored my posts... lil'gazzey????!

'Gary is as Gary does.'

With all your other issues, I think you have to do more than just dribble, lil' gazzey.

Ventura's picture
Ventura's picture
Ventura commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 9:18am

Could someone tell me why the Melbourne wave pool due to be completed next year is not Kelly's Wave pool.Why are the making an inferior product?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 9:28am

Because at one wave every four minutes Kelly's wave isn't a viable commercial proposition but a plaything for rich people who are bored of Mentawai boat trips and governments who'd prefer to fund under-performing sports rather than build schools, TAFEs, or sports fields.

Other wave pools on the market, such as Wave Garden and Surf Lakes, increase the wave rate which puts the cost within reach of Joe Public.

BaSz's picture
BaSz's picture
BaSz commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 11:08am

Oh Crypto-Herc...
It didn't take long before you have gone back to old habits .
Might be time for Yet another "self imposed" editorial time out so you can go back to another session of therapy !
The Spooks still following you !?
Have those land sharks got you looking over your shoulder again...
Back to the hall of mirrors for you !

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 11:53am

Hey Crypto, a man who goes through life without pissing a few people off probably never did much. Keep it rolling!

CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight's picture
CryptoKnight commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 1:35pm

Haha, ah, he's harmless blinder. He's got his hands full with the millipedes!!! It's good he's stuck his useless scone out of the shed!

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 6:04pm

You really do spread your filth all over this website don’t ya. How can you be bothered saying all that shit all the time?

John Eyre's picture
John Eyre's picture
John Eyre commented Saturday, 12 May 2018 at 10:21pm

That is very amusing....... when will gary G surf the wave pool.....is it to Gary Gees liking ?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Monday, 14 May 2018 at 3:06pm

Alcohol/Cigarettes advertise Greatest ever Olympian Swimmer/Surfboardrider.
Bodysurfers & Boardriders pay to see renowned boardrider compete in Sea-tide pool.

From 1915 back to now. Springtide here a cup chlorine there.(A Cigarette paper between)
Make no mistake! Iconic Duke Surfboard label + Vice promoted East Coast Sea Pool Circuit.
Add the grandstanding of a natural seaside tidal pool for or by elite surfers of any make.

What's clear to all is that we've been down this road before....To the very finest of detail.
When Duke cancelled shows he copped social media backlash from paying Bodyshooters.

the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn commented Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 3:57pm

I enjoyed that read, thanks Stu. Lewis Samuels writes well and involves the reader.

Maybe I'm coming from a different viewpoint, I'm not in the North Narra carpark, or any beachside carpark, and calling the guy with a flash car a dickhead. He can drive what he pleases, he's earned the right. And so too with Kelly. I've never met the man, although many of my friends have. If he's attempting to leave surfing better than he found it why criticize?

I've driven past Kelly's Ranch a few times since's its unveil and thought, 'wouldn't it be nice?' and of course it would. But Willy Wonka hasn't called and I can't find the Golden Ticket. But that's life.

The Ranch won't affect me and, for those of us who enter the water today, I doubt it will affect you. We can still find our moment of solitude and reflection - even if it is a little harder to find. Kelly's backed himself, and yes there are investors, but it's his name on the door.

I imagine, at some point or another, he looked to Teddy Roosevelt for a little encouragement along the way. It's damn easy to sit back and commentate, a heck of a lot harder to attempt.

'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat'.

The U Turn
...a little Aloha goes a long way.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 1:50pm

Great quote U- and quite apt. i've read this somewhere before. The man in the arena, hence the Theodore Roosevelt reference.

I enjoyed the article too, nice writing from Lewis Samuel

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 7:42pm

Lewis Samuels Final Edit - U tube
Got a spare hour and half this good.

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