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WSL wave pool contest shocks the world (for good and bad)

The much-hyped Founder’s Cup, the largest wave pool contest to date, reeled off to a global audience this weekend at the WSL Surf Ranch amid much speculation, anticipation and scrutiny.

The world wondered what the globe’s first major wave pool contest would be like. They found out. They formed opinions. They posted comments. But more on that later. First the details about the WSL Founder’s Cup.

There were five teams: Europe, USA, Australia, Brazil and World. The World Team won in an exciting slice of competitive drama, coming from way back in the field to cinch the win in a dramatic confrontation.

Heated Action All Day

Kelly’s wave can be hard to surf, and although it sounds like something from the movie North Shore, with World Team had tied in third with Oz and a rare “surf-off” was called. Each team picked one member to surf the left and one member to surf the right. Jordy Smith and Paige Hareb defeated Australia’s Matt Wilkinson and Tyler Wright after Wilko flubbed his wave with a 4.07 (out of 10) while the rest of the crew notched 7s and 8s.

Brazil held the lead going into the final of the globe’s biggest wave pool contest and the World Team needed something big. Team captain Jordy Smith delivered. The showdown was between Jordy and USA Team Captain Kelly Slater and Filipe Toledo of the Brazil Team. In the end Smith logged the points necessary to seal the win for World Team, a high 9.27 for a combo that included a big alley oops, which along with Kanoa Igarashi’s 8.93, was enough.

Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag at the wave pool contest

South Africa’s Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag

The Comments Forum Responds

“Very boring and fake this whole Surf Ranch comp thing,” posted Anton Cattunar to the WSL site. “It could have been done better. Very cringy looking at Slater saluting to the crowd and the same old boring interviews after every heat and with Turpel-Pottz etc… sooo boringly embarrassing. It looks really fun to surf but I see it more for a good training ground. It’s so predictable and becomes very boring to watch. It doesn’t come even close to a surf comp in nature.”

For every dozen haters of the wave pool contest there was the dude who liked the whole thing and admitted it proudly.

“The Surf Show and the energy of the teams race in the wave pool was impressive,” said Flavio Carvalho who took heat for simply being Brazilian. “It really is a wonderful arena capable of providing duels with equal chances for all athletes.”

Paige Hareb surfs WSL wave pool contest

New Zealander Paige Hareb helped the winning World Team

Another positive commentator, John Hall, pointed out that the haters can watch ocean surfing clips to their heart’s content, but they can’t ignore that something special went down at the ranch.

“If you want to watch competition then don’t bag out the most amazing technological advance that has probably EVER graced a sport,” Hall posted to the WSL site.

Where Does It Go From Here?

So where does this leave us? Did the wave pool contest truly suck and is everyone regretting tuning in? No. The event sold out and heaps of viewers are looking forward to the next event which will probably have a similar number of viewers. And you have to admit, it was pretty special.

The terminally ambassadorial Steph Gilmore put the whole weekend in perspective and pointed to the possibilities inherent in this new venue.

Spectators watch the wave pool contest

Despite steep ticket prices the crowd at the WSL Founder’s Cup was thick

“To see the fans out here and how the team aspect comes in was really positive,” said Steph. “This opens the floodgates into a whole new realm of arenas and events in controlled conditions – which is our love-hate relationship with the ocean and not having waves when we want. But, as long as there’s a really good balance between this and the ocean, I think the two will complement each other really well.”


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