Revolution! Changing the Name
It’s a different sport than ocean surfing. There’s pretty much no relation. —Dane Reynolds on wave pool surfing during the Stab High webcast
I have long railed against the concept, the cultural repercussions, the elitism, and the general idea of mechanizing waves in pools. I have turned down opportunities to surf them because my surf life does not need the pool. I also believe I have tipped my cap to the technology enough by now, and even said that it may be a great way to sample one part of the surf experience for those with no access to coastlines. I still adore Kelly Slater for everything he’s done for surfing — just not a fan of this particular thing. I can confidently say that I personally hate wave pools and their effect on surfing culture. That I may sound like a grumpy old man is not lost on me — I often wonder if I sound like someone drowning in nostalgia, complaining about aerials or progression or something, but I see the wave pool as a threat against the heart of what makes surfing truly special: the ocean and the lifelong pursuit. Not to mention, I loathe the country club atmosphere. I hate the water park culture. I hate chlorine. Pools take away the gnarly: the rocks, the sharks, the sand, the reef. Pools also takeaway the thrill of discovery or the joy you feel for that one hour your spot turns on. Worst of all pools make surfing look like the goofiest lifestyle there is, replacing sandy beach days with Michelob Ultra sponsored AstroTurf patio pool parties — a frustrating image because surfing in its purest form far from goofy.
We must distance the two. Surfing and wave pool riding are not and have never been one in the same. No longer can they be linked under the surfing name. Since I know I can’t stop the gold rush of new pools and wave parks, I’m launching a campaign against the name. We must make history together and change the name of riding waves in wave pools and never refer to it as “surfing “again. Just as riding wakes behind boats is fun, it’s not surfing and so we don’t call it surfing. Why should wave pools be any different?
I know that many of you would sacrifice a sibling for a chance to ride a few at any of the new wave pools — I don’t doubt that they’re fun. But as I’ve said: so are water slides. And inner tubing. Remember that whatever ripping you do in a pool will never be as acclaimed or celebrated as something done in the ocean. It may not even be counted. Just ask Kevin Schulz, a talented pro surfer from San Clemente who pulled that incredible mechanical backwash backflip in Waco, only to have Dane Reynolds say, “Maybe he’s just a wave pool surfer.” Yikes.
Let’s think about what vaping did for smoking. We are in similar waters here. Sorta. Vaping removed the smoke, the danger, allegedly some of the health risks, the romance, the history, the gloomy sadness and all the sex appeal attached to smoking cigarettes. It all vanished in one plume of mechanized artificial vapor coming out of a hot pink flash drive. It’s akin to what happens when someone gets hooked on surfing in a pool. You may think you’re stoked. But that’s just water vapor. Surfing is not Disneyland. It’s an obstacle course. It’s why I used to be proud to wear a shirt branded with a name as silly as “Billabong” proclaiming my affiliation with the surfing tribe. Now I’m afraid of what that affiliation means. I sense Nike may be thinking the same.
Now that I’m all wound up, let’s debate the naming conditions. A term that doesn’t even use the word “surf” in it at all would be best. Much like the way “camping” sent those overpriced tents with bathrooms and heaters and canvas walls out of the outdoors industry with the “Glamping” moniker. We need something sorta silly but fun like “Boogie Boarding.” Playful like “Mini-Golf.” But celebrating and glamourizing the lameness like “Glamping” does.
I’m not a linguist, so let’s work on this together. Once we land on one, I’ll put a call in to Matt Warshaw — surfing’s ultimate historian — and we’ll make it official. With a petition and an entry in the Encyclopedia of Surfing. First we need a name. What about Flurfing? I like the idea of celebrating freshwater too. Chlorine boarding? Help me.
Vaping was the word of the year in 2014. Flurfing for 2020? I’ll make the stickers. —Travis Ferré
I’m dead serious about this. Let’s rename it so I can move on with my surfing life. Send your contribution for names to Hello@InherentBummer.com. If you name it, we’ll go on a surf trip together, to a real wave, my treat. Seriously.