Watch: William Finnegan on surfing Kelly's wave

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

"Just as important as what Kelly Slater does is how he thinks, which includes how he thinks about waves, but he's given away that advantage with his pool."

Propped up on a barstool, illuminated by a lone stage light, William Finnegan gives a potted history of Kelly's wave pool. Though devoid of opinion or conceptual leanings, it's worth a watch simply for Finnegan's concise description of the events that led us to this point, the beginning of the Wave Pool Era.

Comments

nextswell's picture
nextswell's picture
nextswell commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 8:19am

‘Playing god’ from memory I think god is what Kelly refers to himself as.

Tarzan71's picture
Tarzan71's picture
Tarzan71 commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 9:33am

Who gives a fuck about Kelly "Its all about me" Slater.
Unfortunately he really does consider himself more than mortal and that's beaten up by the media everywhere....

Fucken $85- for a fucken t-shirt......

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 9:55am

I never had much of an opinion on him as I'd never really seen any interviews or whatever. Then I watched him on Rogan. What a wanker! Like an insecure teenage boy trying to be cool by making up stories.

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 10:55am

Gary very much enjoyed enjoyed that.

If you'll allow Gary to ponder his navel for a minute:
There's a metaphorical deep sea trench that separates the Surfing Writers (William Finnegan, Lewis Samuels) from the Writing Surfers (everyone else*). The Surfing Writers capture the human experience of being a surfer in all its internal nuances, conflicts and contradictions. The Writing Surfers capture very little. Listening to Finnegan really highlights the gap.

*bar Steve Shearer, who is a Surfing Writer without the non-surfing Esquire/New Yorker platform of the aforementioned duo,

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 12:46pm

That's quite the thought out response Gary G, not just a pretty face and hugely muscular body, eh!

Finnegan's book, Barbarian Days, was a great read, but listening to him is even better.

spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack's picture
spuddyjack commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 11:15am

Thanks Stu,
Articulate and balanced, Finnegan is always good to read and listen to.

Like GM foods, the genie is out of the bottle on this one and Mr Slater is the prime protagonist behind this latest wave pool incarnation. I'm ambivalent about the process and implications. Will it mean talented Groms as limited environment snow flakes in a controlled setting, or will it be the great liberator? It sure as shit looks like fun without adverse variables, but it also invokes a disturbing sense of contrived sterility at the same time. I would always have far more respect for the gutsy natural wave surfer who "pays his/her dues". As Plato stated: "The great oceans are the sum total of all possibilities."

Stay salty

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 11:50am

I reckon the "wave pool era" will probably last about as long as the "indoor cricket era". I'll change my mind when a few have run at a profit for five years.

Laurie McGinness

epictard's picture
epictard's picture
epictard commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 12:04pm

These pools look pretty fun, but I wonder how quickly you would get bored in head-high waves with no chance of rogue sets coming through. You'd start missing copping a good flogging pretty soon I imagine ... like a summer with no ECLs.

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 12:50pm

Worth a watch, even for those of us already in the loop.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 12:51pm

Finnegan, on perfect waves , from Barbarian Days:

"Surfers have a perfection fetish. The perfect wave, etcetera. There is no such thing. Waves are not stationary objects in nature like roses or diamonds. They're quick, violent events at the end of a long chain of storm action and ocean reaction. Even the most symmetrical breaks have quirks and totally specific, local character, changing with every shift in the tide and wind and swell. The best days at the best breaks have a Platonic aspect - they begin to embody a model of what surfers want waves to be. But that's the end of it, that beginning."

strictlybizness's picture
strictlybizness's picture
strictlybizness commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 1:37pm
crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 3:37pm

So telling that someone who can capture in words so eloquently, the surfers never ending search for the perfect wave, admits it's pool reality was so underwhelming and devoid of soul.

PS. Spot on above Gary G.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 4:01pm

Surf comp at Kelly's or the last one at mixed sized, tricky Sunset?
Sunset wins hand down for me.

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 5:13pm

I dunno, my anology is simple. Once upon a time if you wanted to ski (this includes boarding) you had to go climb a mountain with a whole bunch of mountaineering skills and then ski down. Somewhere along the line someone built a resort which opened up mountains for people with limited skills.
Today people (like me) do their one trip a year to the ski fields and go up and down with some capability but I still have no skills to go under that rope and into the wild. To be honest I dont really have a great desire to build those skills, no time and no ongoing exposure to the mountains.
I see the same with wavepools it will provide people with a unique opportunity to spend some $$ and have an experience but that does not translate into a whole bunch of new surfers.

Billyw's picture
Billyw's picture
Billyw commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 7:17pm

what an interesting analogy - hadn't thought about a comparison but I reckon you are spot on. I also am not convinced these wave pools will be as commercially viable as a ski field but time will tell

B Dub

Max Wax's picture
Max Wax's picture
Max Wax commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 8:14pm

very true joe, the majority of popular sports and outdoor activities nowadays originated from a more basic versions with little control or rules and over time increased in popularity, think of the development of football, rugby, and the snowfields as you mentioned etc.
Some people will have grown up participating the original way, but others will grow up knowing no different and will no doubt still be able to enjoy playing sports with a higher degree of control and rules.
To surfers who grew up surfing in the ocean, the wavepool may seem dull and repetitive, but to kids born in 2020 who learn to surf in a wavepools, would they know any different? Would they have a lesser experience than us?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 8:25pm

not sure skiing is a good analogy, but maybe it is.

Indoor ski mountains were massive at one point in the states and then went bust as people went back to real mountains.

Maybe that is a more accurate analogy.

For most people getting to mountains, climbing them and going down them is a giant hassle that takes time, tonnes of gear and money.

Whereas for most of the Aussie population at least, waves are plentiful, cheap/free to access and it doesn't take much gear to go for a paddle.

But we'll see what happens and thanks for the kind words Gary g.

ojackojacko's picture
ojackojacko's picture
ojackojacko commented Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018 at 10:35pm

from the story (thanks for the link strictlybiz - a good read as you’d expect)

“... the going rate for a group, I had heard from a W.S.L. official, was fifty thousand dollars a day. I also didn’t mention some other things I had heard: that all available days this year had been booked, and that Gulfstream jets were now often seen at the nearby Visalia Municipal Airport. ...”

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018 at 5:15am

The polar opposite of Sam George.

The skiing analogy doesn't hold. There are hundreds of thousands of skiers that ride lifts, but know exactly what they're doing. That have the training, skills, avy gear.

Go to Chamonix and take the Aiguille du Midi cable car 2800m of vert and see what goes on up there.

Alpine touring, earning your turns, is a different side to skiing, and does require a fair bit of knowledge and gear and nous, but there is a big overlap between touring and lift-access skiing in terms of skills and attitude.

hillsintas's picture
hillsintas's picture
hillsintas commented Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018 at 8:18am

I enjoyed the clip.
We live in interesting times.