THE NEXT WAVE
Despite the obvious differences between man-made waves and those from the sea, they’re eerily similar depending on how you look at them. In fact, in some cases, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s no difference at all.
Allow me to explain:
What you see in the above video is Tanner McDaniel – the world’s most explosive young gun right now – tearing apart the BSR Surf Resort (better known as the Texan Wave Pool) with aplomb. It’s also the culmination of months spent wheeling, dealing and (let’s face it, we’re bodyboarders so) pleading to score an invite to the exclusive man-made wave party. It’s now well-established that Kelly’s offering, with its long groomed walls and mechanical barrel sections, is better suited to our stand-up counterparts. But not the Texan pool. It packed punch: ramp sections, compact slabs and, while controlled using a system of algorithms and predictable patterns, possessed an irresistible element of unpredictability. Naturally, we wanted a piece.
Our people got in touch with their people, and soon enough we had a running dialogue beaming with promise. Being in the midst of pulling together our latest issue and fuelled by dangerous levels of confidence, we hinged the entire magazine on the yet-to-be-confirmed-but-surely-in-the-bag trip to the landlocked wave mecca. It became our main feature, the crowning jewel in our paper crown. We planned features that waxed on wave pools and the future of wave-riding; before too long, it dictated the entire theme (behold: the Future Issue, out November 28). We teed up a team of seasoned riders, photographers, videographers, fluffers and hangers-on to fly at a moment’s notice to Texas once we scored the inevitable go-ahead. Ideas were storyboarded. Inventive ideas to bring the concept to life were locked down, and our egos were sufficiently stroked. The itinerary was double, triple-checked. Bags packed. Boards waxed. Holiday boardies well-starched.
And then, radio silence.
Five weeks to deadline became four, then three, two (one?) and still no word from our fun-loving friends in Texas. (Why aren’t they returning our lighthearted email volleys, or texts, DMs, phone calls to their home phone numbers?) We’re not bitter – they’re busy people and we’re just another punter waiting in the queue. But like jilted exes, we Insta-stalked the wave pool on the minute, searching for some salvation in the form of an update; but only finding an ever-growing content bank of happy surfers, tired and content from a day’s dropping into chlorinated kegs. Taunting us with their happiness.
With the moments winding down to deadline, we sat sweating on the probable fate that, short of a miracle, the biggest section of our new issue would most likely fizzle out. Poor us, you’re probably not thinking. But we were.
Of course, by now you know that didn’t happen. Less than a week from deadline we scored the email we’d been longing for: “You’re booked for Monday”. 48 hours later, a call to Tanner, a handful of last-minute booked flights and two precious hours in the Texan wave pool later, and we had scored man-made waves that exceeded everything beyond our wildest imaginations.
In many ways, it felt like any other strike mission to an uncharted wave. The anticipation of the unknown. Checking the charts – or in this case, emails – to see whether it’s on. The feeling of over-planning, and getting skunked despite your best efforts. And finally, dropping everything to get there when the stars align.
Then you’re brought back to reality by the thundering bellow of the supercharged air pumps that produce these perfect man-made waves, swim up to the bar overlooking the Texan wonderland and realise that it couldn’t be further from the . But just like the sea, it sure is nice to still have a few moments of pure unpredictability. “What’ll it be?” the bartender asks. Surprise me.
Enjoy the predictable unpredictability of McDaniel taking aim at the wedges of the Texas wave pool, filmed by Alex Perez and edited by Todd Barnes. Then go and check our latest issue, please (plugging our own shit? So predictable).
This clip was made possible with the support of the following brands: