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William Finnegan’s profound insight into Kelly’s Wave Pool

Pulitzer Prize winner digs in deep to explain surfing’s latest existential funk in 8 quick minutes

It’s rare that surfing enjoys the intellectual chops that come with a writer like William Finnegan. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author explored Kelly’s wave pool for The New Yorker in a lengthy written piece and in a podcast.

Finnegan explores “The Perfect Wave” phenomenon, or more appropriately, Kelly’s role in bringing surfing to the non-ocean adjacent world.

For ten years Kelly explored designs. The first was a circular track, then a rectangular multi-wave field and then the now-famous Lemoore design.

Kelly’s wave pool came about after, what one engineer described as a project with “horrendous mathematics.” 140+ truck tires pulling a 100-ton iron blade that pushes out a soliton, or single solitary wave.

Finnegan shares his ethical dilemma, wearing the non-biased hat of a reporter, but also frothing to go for a surf. When Slater taps him on the shoulder and invites him out for a wave, Finnegan caves and surfs the pool.

“It was not the religious experience I expected.” Find out why in the 8-minute YouTube clip below.


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