The Wave Pool Has Changed the Way We Watch (and Surf) the Rest of the CT, for the Better – Nick Carroll

15 May 2018 17

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

Mikey Wright and an image exploding with the kind of surfing you won't see in a wave pool in 2018. Photo: WSL/Poullenot

Mikey Wright and an image exploding with the kind of surfing you won't see in a wave pool in 2018. Photo: WSL/Poullenot

HURRAY FOR BARRINHA!
Grumble all you like, the pool’s already changed the tour. Just not the way anyone expected.

By Nick Carroll

Well, how about that? Barrinha just kicked the shit out of the pool.

Best men’s round one of the year. Free, unpredictable surfing, just the way we know it to be.

There were lame heats and almost brilliant ones. There were peelers and heaving backwashy ones and sharp-edged little beauties. People did free-form things on closeouts. The two closing rides of JJF’s and the Mongrel’s in their round one heat obliterated everything done last weekend in Lemoore. Hell, the Mongrel’s free-fall off the lip move did that on its own.

Watching it, I kept thinking, “Maybe this is just me.” After all, I am an Australian surfer, thus my surfing eye is a sucker for five foot rock-wall wedged up beachies. It’s DNA for chrissake.

But then I thought, “Who ISN’T a sucker for five foot rock-wall wedged up beachies?” Anyone who doesn’t like that stuff doesn’t like life.

Plus, there’s energy in any CT that isn’t present in a slightly artificial “national teams” event like the Founders’ Cup. Actually, there’s more energy in this CT than in any of the three Aussie ones. All of a sudden it feels as if there’s something on the line.

The pool and its outing under even half-baked competition pressure has triggered something unexpected. A fascinating and quite powerful tension – a kind of duel in the mind’s eye – has now been set up between artificial and natural, between predictable flawlessness and wind-powered wildness. This tension is as new to surfing as the pool itself. Maybe some of us assumed it wouldn’t play out until Pipeline or Chopes, but it’s right here, right now. Even the way we look at Rio has changed.

More to the point: It’s turned the heat up on everything to do with the CT. I think it’s affecting the surfers. Maybe some are just feeling released from the pool’s strange pressures and are full of psyche, back in the ocean and wanting to rip. Maybe some of them want to blow up at Barrinha just to stick one up the pool. Maybe some of them will begin to turn on each other, drop the friendship mask and expose the fang and claw of actual sport. Rivalries might emerge from this diffused tension – actual real ones, the kind of rivalries the WSL era has lacked from the start. The ones you can’t talk into being, but they instead erupt out of sheer ungoverned passion. Literally, out of the unpredictable.

Nobody predicted this, that’s for sure. Half the grumbling about the pool has been coming from old school US and Aussie surfers who dislike Brazil sort of automatically. The idea that a Rio-adjacent spot they didn’t know existed would blow doors on their new bete noir, well it is just a bit ironic.

It’d be even weirder if the pool’s first big contribution was to make the CT crew – and the rest of us – value more fully what was there in the first place.


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