Kelly Slater’s Perfect Wave
It’s fast. It’s hollow. It’s perfectly shaped. It will get boring.
Each wave is exactly the same. Each is totally predictable. There’s no variability. Nothing about the wave is random. The surfer knows exactly what the wave will do at every moment.
One of the things that makes ocean surfing exciting to do and watch is the waves’ unpredictability. Each wave breaks differently. No two are exactly alike. One of the measures of a surfer’s skill is how well he/she handles that unpredictability. A surfer is the wave’s slave but has to become its master.
The biggest problem with surfing contests has always been the potential absence of good waves. Even if there’s a good swell running, wind, weather or a wrong tide can ruin a contest. To reduce the chances of a ruined contest, promoters introduced waiting periods. At beaches blessed with consistent swells and good conditions, the chances of good surf within the contest’s waiting period increase.
The most important contests are held on Oahu’s North Shore during the winter because the chances of good surf and conditions are high. But even then, the contests have waiting periods.
Kelly Slater’s perfect wave eliminates the potential absence of good waves. It’s expected the next step will be to introduce unpredictability into how the wave breaks. Without random variability, the wave will get boring to ride and watch.
Can the technology produce waves about twice as big as those we’ve seen so far? Surfers would be stoked to ride fast, hollow six- to eight-foot waves that break unpredictably. And that would be exciting to watch.