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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Thu, 22 March 2018

Stuff just got real. Mikey February will surf the whole 2018 tour and the World Surf League just opened the Surf Ranch doors for national squads to train in their wave pool, rewrites Spike.

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FULL TOUR: Mikey February has been dealt a full house for the 2018 tour. Photo WSL / Keoki

Mikey has cracked the nod for the upcoming Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which starts in six days, after Kelly Slater formally withdrew again because of his injured foot. Meanwhile, Surfing Australia has become the first national squad to train with the wave pool technology.

Slater, the man behind it all, withdrew well in time for Mikey to surf in Round One, and even prepare for it too. He faces a touch start against standouts Filipe Toledo and Griffin Colapinto in Round One.

February becomes an official Championship Tour (CT) member after the Rip Curl Pro due to Mick Fanning's retirement, but has lucked into the first two events, which makes it so much better for him to finish well on tour - and qualify for the next one.

"It's a weird way to get on the CT -- it's cheesy, but I guess everything happens for a reason," said February, adding: "I think the year's going to be full of a lot of learning."

With the Tokyo Olympics just two years away, Australia signed up for high performance coaching at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California. The men’s and women’s teams and their coaches have booked for two training sessions from June 18 to 23, and another in August.

The amount of money they are paying is undisclosed, but it's probably quite a lot, if they are paying. For instance, on the Monday following the first public event there (the Founders’ Cup of Surfing on the weekend of May 5 to 6), it will cost you $9,500 (about R112,000) for a one-hour surf session on the Monday following the event.

According to an article in the Orange County Register "the price includes a three-night stay, a pre-event party and dinner Friday and an invite-only, after-party concert. Other perks with the package include a personalized locker, coaching and professional photography and videography."

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FOUNDING FATHERS: They named the first wave pool event after the ballies. Photo WSL / Morris

Apparently a ticket to the event will cost $105.77 (R1,240) and the grom ticket (10 or younger) is $80. Tickets for both days is $160, but if you want VIP treatment – free food, drink premiere seating and parking, you'll cough up $517.77 (R6,100).

Do the well resourced and competitive Aussies want to get the jump on the rest of the world?

“We want to provide our athletes with every advantage possible when preparing for them for the WSL Tour and beyond, and going to Surf Ranch is the ultimate way to achieve that,” said Andrew Stark, Surfing Australia CEO.

Many of the Australian National Squad group have already tested -- and enthusiastically endorse -- the wave at Surf Ranch, like Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore, Matt Wilkinson, Adrian Buchan, and Nikki Van Dijk. They will be joined by teammates Connor O’Leary, Wade Carmichael, Mikey Wright, Sally Fitzgibbons, Keely Andrew, Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, Ethan Ewing, and Stuart Kennedy.

“The facility and the wave at Surf Ranch is amazing,” said Gilmore, six-time world champ who will captain Australia at the Founders’ Cup of Surfing. “It’s such a fun wave to surf and really high-performance. The ability to train here will be extremely valuable to help achieve our WSL Championship Tour goals and beyond.”

Since its online reveal in December 2015, the Surf Ranch has captured the world’s attention as the best man-made wave in history: a 700-yard, high-performance, bi-directional wave featuring barrel sections and maneuver sections. Primarily existing as a testing facility, the Lemoore site has spent the past two years dialing in the technology under the guidance of 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and feedback from visiting WSL surfers.

The Surf Ranch will also host the Surf Ranch Open, a WSL Tour stop, from September 6 to 9.

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DREAM WAVE: Don't bet against Brazil not winning the Founder's Cup. Photo WSL / Morris


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