Nacent wave pool contest scene grows with Surf Ranch Pro

Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool is the real winner as Lowers is replaced by Lemoore

More Wave pool contests are coming. The WSL ran one in 1985 at the Allentown Pennsylvania wave pool which crowned the diminutive and determined Tom Carroll victor. Likewise, this century’s generation of surfing specific wave pools have seen a handful of events, rhe Red Bull Unleashed contest at Surf Snowdonia and the upcoming Stab High at the BSR Surf Ranch.

Now enter the World Surf League’s Surf Ranch Pro. It’s a standard points Championship Tour event that has replaced Lower Trestles. The direction away from saltwater is a growing trend in competitive surfing.

Earlier this year the WSL tested the waters of wave pool competition with the Founders Cup – a demo event that drew scattered applause from online surf fans. The format featured five teams: Europe, USA, Australia, Brazil and the World.

Since each athlete surfed an identical wave, the construct of the event effectively shifts the focus from surfing performance to competitive drama. It’s exciting, and the World team went on to claim victory in a heated surf off at the close of the day.

The upcoming Surf Ranch Pro contest is different than other CT events

The format will be different from standard 30-minute CT heats. Each athlete gets a “run” which is one left and one right. They will do this two times (four waves) to get a score comprised of the best left and best right. Athletes are then reseeded by their scores for run number three. After a third “run” the final eight men and four women advance to the finals where each athlete will get six waves.

Surfers who will be competing in this wave pool event

This wave pool contest will feature the WSL’s elite CT, except for Caio Ibelli, John John Florence and Tyler Wright who are out due to injuries. Stepping into the deep end will be Mikey Wright, Miguel Pupo and Bethany Hamilton, some with prior Surf Ranch experience and some without.

“It’s definitely taking me some time to figure this wave out but I’m getting there and it’s really fun,” said Mikey Wright. “I’m pretty stoked to get the wildcard. I’ve been lucky enough to get a few this year. I’m really looking forward to the event. I’m not on tour yet. This year has been a real learning experience for me. I’m just trying to take it all in. Hopefully next year I’ll make it.”


wave pool contest

Mikey Wright warms up for the Surf Ranch Pro wave pool contest. Image WSL

The event runs from September 6 – 9 as Stop No. 8 on the 2018 CT and will factor into this year’s world title.

Following on the commercial success of bringing surfing to a stadium environment, this year’s event will offer tickets starting at $99 for each. Tickets for the VIP viewing deck and specialized food and drink are available for $499.

Of note is that the upcoming Stab High  is rumored to be pay-per-view while the WSL keeps their free Facebook broadcasts. They’re promoting the event as being full of “beach vibes” a marketing necessity since the nearest ocean is 100 miles away.

Surf Ranch wave pool contest format

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