Inland surfing: Headed for the Olympics?
A new technology that creates “perfect waves” could mean that the sport of surfing will be included in the Olympic Games. To include surfing in the Olympics wouldn’t be such a surprising development. After all we’ve seen the addition of snowboarding and even recently BMX. A far older and more popular sport, it’s strange that surfing isn’t already a part of the Summer Olympics.
But the problem with surfing in the Olympics has always been an inability to guarantee good conditions. Surf competitions have the luxury of waiting for the waves to come to hold an event. As just one sport among many in the Olympics, surfing wouldn’t be able to do that. Plus, there aren’t that many countries in the world that have good, consistent waves. So while surfing might be a viable event in some places in the world, most couldn’t host it.
Sort of like how snow machines were a game changer for skiing, developments in wave machines and the construction of state-of-the-art inland surfing centres may be what surfing needs to become an Olympic Sport.
From the Guardian:
Now the holy grail for surfers – regular, perfect waves – appears to be no longer unobtainable. Snowdonia and Bristol are leading the world in the race to build the first commercial inland surfing centres capable of hosting international championships. Both sites claim they will be operating next year – putting them ahead of a number of countries keen on inland surfing, including Australia, which is looking to roll out five centres. Hawaii, Morocco, Portugal, Russia and China are also said to be keen on the concept.
Why surf meccas like Portugal and Hawaii need inland surfing centres may be a bit confusing, but I reckon it’s got something to do with guarantees and rainy days. And do surf purists hate inland surfing and artificial waves? Maybe some do, but these new upstart surf centres, like Surf Snowdonia in Wales, UK have the full support of the International Surfing Association (ISA).
From the ISA’s website:
An exciting new Surfing and water sports center to be built in the village of Dolgarrog, in the Conwy Valley of North Wales, the Surf Snowdonia wave park is a revolutionary concept which has fired the imagination of the world’s top surfers and opened up new possibilities for the sport.
By applying the latest wave technology, the Surf Snowdonia center will be able to consistently produce two meter [six feet] high, 180 meter [590 feet] long, high performance surfing waves every day of the year.
Of course, inland surfing will never replace the real thing, but it should help the sport grow and help those surfers who don’t live near good breaks to keep in practice year round. Plus there’s that important side benefit of improving the chances of the International Olympic Committee making surfing an Olympic sport.