POOL ~ You can’t talk about the KS Wave Co Pool without looking at the man himself.
I’ve meet Kelly a few times over the years. I guess no one knows what it’s like to be him except Kelly.
I remember one time at Easter in Torquay Kelly turned up at the restaurant we were already in. All of a sudden a crowd started milling about outside, peering in and waiting for Kelly. Anyway, my point is he has handled himself well over the years of a stellar career becoming the GOAT of our wonderful sport, recreation, or whatever you like, he’s the best ever.
Not just the contest wins and the 11 World Titles in the past, but throughout his career he has led high performance surfboard design on the World Tour.
Mostly in association with Al Merrick, but sometimes on his own and lately with a variety of shapers through his latest eco friendly Firewire project. In the early 1990’s Kelly and Al introduced the narrower more rockered shape, revolutionising performance surfing. And since then he has been at the forefront of trending innovations.
Another memory to show how reasonable a GOAT he is, I had the occasion to congratulate him on a contest win or World Title to which he replied ‘thanks Simon, but it’s not like I invented the Thruster.’
A nice thing to say to an old board maker.
So now maybe Kelly has invented himself something equally big in surfing to cap off his incredible influence on all things surf.
The remarkable wave pool in the desert at Lemoore.
I’ve given this some thought since experiencing a couple of waves after the Founders Cup.
What is it that’s so good about this wave?
For one thing it keeps Kelly stoked.
The right I’m guessing is modelled off Kirra on the Gold Coast.
The main thing about the wave is it’s long and perfect. Coming in at a perfect angle onto the perfect reef style bottom.
No wave in the Ocean is perfect, there are always some imperfections or bobbles or worbles.
The wave has momentum power so you can surf a normal small wave all-rounder board.
Epoxy is not necessarily necessary.
Given there is no paddle requirement you can actually surf a smaller and narrower board than normal providing you’re agile getting up.
If I noticed anything about the surfing on the wave it was that a lot of surfers drifted out a little on backhand bottom turns.
Your board can tend to want to go straight down the pool, instead of engaging the rail straight away off the bottom, thereby making timing less than precise out of the top. To do any turn out the top you do need to be quick and obviously precise in order to keep pace with the next section.
The Founders Cup was an interesting test event and showed up a few things;
Number 1. it’s nerve wracking waiting for your wave.
2. it was crucial to surf the wave from beginning to end to get the score.
3. if you do complete the wave you will experience muscle fatigue in the legs making it difficult to complete airs at the end of the ride.
For the men to win any event it’s most likely you will need to complete an air at some point.
For the women holding your nerve, making the wave and finishing strong is key.
All the surfers did well in the Founders Cup.
Standout women that I saw – Paige Hareb, Steph Gilmore, Carissa Moore, Tyler Wright.
Standout men – Jordy Smith, Filipe Toledo, and Kelly made a valiant effort on the last wave of the contest surfing like Kelly of old, super quick, hyper extending in every turn, perfect positioning in the barrel, was there one more magic moment.
Not to be as the big air came unstuck.
Best overall surfer I think was Gabriel Medina. He displayed extra flare out of the top and every manoeuvre was connected beautifully with great speed over the length of the pool.
Spectating at the pool by it’s nature is very difficult because of wave pool length 700 metres or approximately 2000 feet. Only 3 sides with a public grandstand at one end and pavilions along the side.
You can only see the wave coming toward you so in effect you can watch roughly 30 – 50% of the surfing direct. The rest you have to watch on the big screen. Seems like a long way to go to watch surfing on a TV screen.
The day I arrived at the pool on the Friday afternoon, (a 4 hour drive from Huntington), the Founders of the modern World Tour – Ian Cairns, Shaun Tomson, Rabbit Bartholomew and Mark Richards, along with the host KS, were having a nice little orientation session. Fred Hemmings and Peter Townend chose not to surf.
The one thing about the pool when you first walk up to it and the first wave materialises in front of you – it’s quite an astonishing moment.
The wave is very impressive.
The old boys did well but definitely I was hoping for a shot at it too, to get the full effect and feel for myself any equipment variations required for the wave.
Finally got my shot Monday morning 7.30 am.
I was nervous and a little unsettled.
My first wave, a right, was a great success, got to my feet alright, carved off a few out of the top, settled into a nice barrel section came out and made a mistake caught an inside rail.
Wave 2 was bad, paddling too far in and not making the take off.
Then waited a while for the next right and blew an off the top transition to the bottom catching a rail again early.
Wave 4 caught halfway down on the left, managed a few half decent turns out of the top, and with the encouragement of Raimana and Kelly from the ski 10 feet away, pulled into the end section.
This felt good and made my day, but all too soon my session was over.
I was nervy, uncomfortable initially in the pool but after my 4th wave I settled down, I guess you get confidence and used to the strange environment and just want to surf.
I reckon if given the opportunity you could work on a lot of stuff with your surfing and equipment.