New Rules For Surf Ranch 2023?

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

When the Woz pulled the Surf Ranch from the CT schedule, surf fans assumed it was a permanent move. The freshwater experiment had been tried and fans had voted with their feet, or eyeballs as it is.

Even Jordy Smith voiced his concerns over the contest telling The Australian it's "predictable" and “really not that exciting to the viewers after watching the tenth surfer go back into the barrel for another ten seconds."

As Steve mentioned in yesterday's article, however, the move isn't permanent; the Woz always intended the CT to return poolside. Erik Logan said as much in 2021, and this week's tour announcement comes good on that.

So why the time off? What was the point of it?

You may say we lead small lives, but those questions have intrigued us here at Swellnet. Occupied our thoughts. Kept us awake at night.

But fortunately we can rest easy as we have the answer.

When the Surf Ranch returns next May it'll be with a different format; something more appealing to both surfers and viewers. The Woz has spent the downtime testing and refining their new ideas.

How do we know this..?

Well, each six months or so, the Woz update their Rulebook and place a discreet download button at the basement of their website. From 2018 up till mid-2021, the rules for the pool - dubbed the 'WS', or 'Wave System' - were found in Chapter 8, betwixt rules for the Big Wave Tour and the Air Tour.

In late 2021, however, Chapter 8 was ghosted. Replaced by a lone passage:

"In advance of any Event conducted in a WS, the Office of Tours and Competition will provide the rules for the Event to the Surfers competing in the Event at least fourteen (14) days prior to the start of the Event."

Since then, there have been five version updates and in each of them Chapter 8 remains ghosted. The most recent version was released late last month and still there are no rules.

Admittedly, this prediction involves some speculation. However, why a wholesale removal of the rules if not for a wholesale change?

There's no precedent for removing the rules. I know because I'm anal enought to download each and every booklet. If they wanted to simply sharpen up the existing rules...well, that's what version updates are for.

Fact is, once the novelty wore off, the Surf Ranch has been a cold fish for both viewers and contestants. Anecdotally, the viewship has been ebbing away, and typical CT fervour - a good gauge of viewership - remains muted. More damningly, of the 54 men and women surfers at last year's contest, 9 of them handed in absentee cards.

I expect sometime in the next three months we'll see a glowing presser from Elo announcing a new and improved format at the pool. The specifics of that press release are ripe for speculation.

Shorter waves? An air section? A format that favours progressive surfing?

The Woz bought the pool, and they'll make this damn thing work yet.


Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 2:19pm

Make it staaaaahp.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:06pm

I don’t think changing the format will overcome the 2 main problems with the Surf Ranch comp.

1) The dull predictability of the wave.

2) The dead zone between waves ridden. Even on a slow day at an ocean event, between ridden waves, you are watching smaller waves roll thru, and surfers paddling and positioning etc. It’s not static. But at the surf ranch, there is nothing to watch between waves. It’s dead for minutes. Nothing, nada. It’s only a little watchable if you have it on while you are doing something else. Maybe that could be the slogan, ‘The Surf Ranch Pro - something to have on while you are doing something else’.

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:06pm

New Rule 1. Kelly to be scored at least 2 points higher on average for any wave surfed on par to any other surfer.

New Rule 2. If in doubt see rule 1.

amb's picture
amb's picture
amb Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:44pm

a "Switch" ride, might be entertaining

DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 3:59pm

All competitors must carry three gerbils anywhere on or in their person for the duration of each ride to be considered completed.

Extra rodents accommodated will garner bonus points.

Phillthy_Phillberson's picture
Phillthy_Phillberson's picture
Phillthy_Phillberson Saturday, 24 Sep 2022 at 6:37am

Haha! How did this not get more love?!

tableandchairs's picture
tableandchairs's picture
tableandchairs Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 4:25pm

Maybe Home and Away can shoot a few episodes there

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 5:32pm

Lipstick on a pig.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 5:50pm

mma between heats ....includes women and men........

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 6:24pm

Doesn't matter what you do it will never work, it will always just be surfing in a pool, it had to be tried but it's a big fail.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 6:53pm

Rule #1 Body & mind focused... (see rule 2)
Rule #2 $ponsorship
Rule #3 Gravity & ability
Rule # 4 WSL ....? P.R. engagement; chitchat, ,"mock suspense anyone"? backpat, drinks, etc )

cheeke's picture
cheeke's picture
cheeke Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 7:07pm

It’s obviously a great fun wave to surf, but not for competition

gsco's picture
gsco's picture
gsco Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 7:20pm

Each competitor is to skull a jug of rum n coke before each heat and between each wave (and no peeing in the tub).

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 8:06pm

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 8:26pm

Elo did not quite manage to include it for the finals day but it will be perfect in the pool. So I am posting it again. He sees this exciting new direction as the future. You don't even need waves so it opens up incredible scope for massive growth in participation and so we all win with many friendly new surf buddies to hang with in the line up at point breaks.

Greebs's picture
Greebs's picture
Greebs Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 12:39am

Well that's just horrendous!! (And that coming from a supper (amongst other things)).

Blingas's picture
Blingas's picture
Blingas Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 8:20am

OMG this is brilliance.... combine this with the pool and they would really be "buiiiilldding there hoouussse"

Coaster's picture
Coaster's picture
Coaster Wednesday, 21 Sep 2022 at 10:25pm

New Rules for the Wave Pool
1. If you miss a wave, your prize money or appearance fee will be docked by the $1500 that it cost to generate the wave.
2. If at the end of each wave you don’t look thrilled to be surfing in a pool your score will be docked 2 points.
3. If you say anything derogatory about the pool at any time your scores will be docked by an amount decided by the organisers at their discretion, and no further correspondence will be entered into.
4. If you attempt to cutback and hit the guy that follows on the wave ski, your score will be docked by 5 points.
5. If you pump ahead of the pocket and attempt to do a reentry and cutback off the wall, your score will be docked by 3 points.
6. Any manoeuvre performed by a competitor that moves away from the pocket and which requires the camera crew to bring into focus the equipment that generates or sustains the wave, including but not limited to, the train, the wave plane/bow, the wall, the gutters, the guy that follows on the wave ski, the poolside footpath, or any other structure that creates the impression that this event is occurring miles from the ocean, your score will be docked 5 points.
7. Jumping off your board and hanging on to the wall will not be judged as an “air” and your score will be docked by 3 points.
8. Anyone competitor or spectator attempting to ride the train will be disqualified and/or ushered out of the premises by the security team.
9. The competitors will toss a coin before each heat and the winner can choose the left or right hand side. At half-time the event will move to the other side.
10. Competitors must not paddle out. Any competitor that does not use the footpath to get to the take off spot will be docked 3 points.

morg's picture
morg's picture
morg Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 7:51am

11. Fins will be progressively removed from the surfers board after each wave and the last wave will be finless with points deducted for in excess of 4 second tube time and bonus points for progressive manoeuvres.

theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthe... Friday, 23 Sep 2022 at 7:22am

12. Competitors will start with a plain white board and continue a posca pen artwork on the underside between each wave surfed. Boards will be judged at the end of the event with the artwork contributing 25% of final score.
Winning board will be immediately reproduced at Cobra factory and up for sale on wsl sites.

theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthe... Friday, 23 Sep 2022 at 8:35pm

Chris Cote will open the exhibition..

rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 6:49am

now if there was a wave on the other side of the 'plow ' and both surfers got to surf each wave simultaneously and then back again , now that could be worth watching , a real man against man format .

rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 6:52am

and surely for the amount of energy required to generate a wave would make an equal wave on the other side of the 'plow ' .

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 7:49am

Make it like the Thunderdome….each competitor has a chainsaw, axe etc….water full of piranhas….2 men enter, one man leaves….

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 12:45pm

What about wearing a semi-see through type blindfold?


3 sets of one left and right
1st set on a single
2nd on twinnie
3rd on thruster.
Would probably close the gap and be fairer judge on the best “surfing”

Redmond Clement's picture
Redmond Clement's picture
Redmond Clement Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 1:38pm

I thought the rumble in the tub idea was a great idea. Like the UFC. Fighting for waves. No rules. Maybe allow sups where the paddle could be used as a weapon.

RichieMac's picture
RichieMac's picture
RichieMac Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 2:14pm

Four surfers in each heat NO Priority

dastasha's picture
dastasha's picture
dastasha Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 2:35pm

I don't see any point to having a legrope in the pool.
Failed air attempt = disqualification

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost Thursday, 22 Sep 2022 at 9:52pm

If a wave was caught in the tub without a jet ski following was it really a tub wave ?

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Saturday, 24 Sep 2022 at 12:33am

#1 Surf Journo Stu plays The Ultimate Surfer Wild Card...Well played Sir!

FBI : "WSL Pool Manual & The Ultimate Surfer Epilogue were recovered from the Mar-a-Lago raids!"

Ultimate Surfer...
2 men + 2 women Finalists who will vie for the M/F titles & the opportunity to compete on the elite CT.

Seems that The Prez had to do an executive override on The Ultimate Secret Surfer Scrolls... (Why!)

Ultimate Man Zeke qualified for the Tour via the Ooh La La Quiky...just before WSL flushed all trace of it!

Elo consults The Ultimate WSL Wave Pool Manual!
Elo : "Says here that I get to decide which events & which year if at all!"
"That sounds so heavy...Bummer!"
(That's a tough executive call...note to self...You just earned yerself a huge pay rise!)

KASEBERGA Sea Tumblr :
"Just toss The WSL Ultimate IKEA Wave Pool Instruction Manual into WOTD & see wot it spits out!"

Elo : "Brilliant! A whole new Wild Card Plot Twist..."
"We train this Wave Pool Model 24/7 that's pre programmed to take out the Goat's Top 5 nemesis!"

KASEBERGA Sea Tumblr :
"Err Boss! Think we still gotta toss it into the Barrel first...before we accidentally pull out yer evil wish!"
"Kinda makes it look less suss & more sportsmanlike!"

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Tuesday, 4 Oct 2022 at 12:57pm

WSL "Wish to Truly Mainstream the Sport of Surfing."
The Ranch website : "Programmable Set Start / End Time & dates to lock in larger Global audience!"

2016 ISA : "Olympic Wave Pool must have a proven sustainability model!"

2020 Agenda : White Elephant Legacy?
2020 Universality of Competitive Wave Pools

23rd June 2021 Are WSL grooming the Dude's Ranch for 2028 LA Olympics.

2022: The need for WSL / Wave Pool Qualifying compliance
WP Mag downplays Wave Pool but cements Surfing into 2032 Qld Olympics (Locals never read such?)

16th Sept Huntington Beach ISA games push for Olympics clashes with Santa Monica
This could play into the hands of WSL Wave Pool Venue to split the pack.
Just as the Wild Card impossibly won the French Olympic Bid against all odds simply by existing.
Any delay buys time for WSL to construct their custom Surf Media Stadium.

20th Sept 2022 (Beach Grit): " LA Olympics Wave Pool (Rumour)
As above : Wave Pool can lock in Magic Hour peak nite Broadcast (vs) Vagaries of a random Swell Train
WSL / Olympics sell peak broadcast Surf rights...less so salty cabbage ice cream & Surf Stickers!

20th Sept 2022 "Hints of Olympic Wave Pool..(Build the Stadium & they will come!)"
Kings County Planning Commission approved Expansion Construction to finish in 2026
Interesting that this WSL Plan B was set in motion as Coachella were geared down & scuttled.
Set to Host 5-8,000 spectators with 6 Events / year all open to the public.
State of the Art Rec & Training Facilities / Music Performance Venues / Vending / Camping

WSL is designing an Olympic Venue that locks in the Peak Hour Global TV remote

Just dwell on that fact of guaranteed product supply on time everytime ...
Huntington are under pressure to re-utilize their proposed Beach Stadium after the Games.
Hands up any locals that wanna live with a White Elephant blocking Wind & Sun along the shoreline.
Example : Stadium will Boss the beach to host Annual World Volleyball & Frisbee Tournaments.
One would include Beach Soccer for example...Huge around these parts!
The Beach becomes a privatized exclusive Shadowy White Shoe enclave...Yeah! One of Those.
Careful wot ya wish for!

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Sunday, 11 Dec 2022 at 12:32am

The Ranch Ultimate Wild Card ELO plays his Double Deuces...

'Just back off I tell ya...a bit more please...further!'

'I did warn I gotta cast a spell on yer crew!'