Like a lot of the surfers I know, I spent a part of the previous weekend online watching the World Surf League’s competition held at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in central California.

As a fan, one of my takeaways from the event was that a surfing contest in a man-made wave park has a long way to go to replace the drama and suspense of one held in the ocean. At Slater’s wave pool, I knew what was going to happen, wave after wave. A perfect left, reeling for hundreds of yards with a barrel section at the end. Ditto for the right.

There was no variability, no guessing if the ocean was going to grant another opportunity to a competitor before the clock ran out or if conditions were going to change. The wave pool took one of the primary sources of the drama out of the equation. Watching the pros do the same things on the same waves again and again became downright—dare I say it—boring.

Granted, there were standout performances from eventual winner Gabriel Medina and fellow Brazilian Filipe Toledo. But, on the whole, I thought the contest was a yawner.

If wave parks are the future of surfing, contest organizers are going to have to find a way to introduce variables into the technology. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot to differentiate one pro surfer from another, and that equates to a snoozefest for anyone watching at the site, online or on television.

If you watched the Surf Ranch Pro, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Andy Irons documentary tonight in Galveston

“Andy Irons: Kissed by God” will be shown at Galveston Island Brewing, 8423 Stewart Road, tonight.

All proceeds from the Galveston premiere, which follows the film’s release earlier this year at theaters in Houston and nationwide, will benefit the Texas Gulf Surfing Association, the sanctioning body of competitive surfing in the Lone Star State.

Tickets are $10 at the door—starting at 7 p.m.—and the movie, about the life and tragic death of three-time world champion Andy Irons, begins at dusk.

Texas Adopt-a-Beach cleanup postponed to Oct. 6

The rainy weather and the continued damp forecast has forced the fall Texas Adopt-A-Beach cleanup to be rescheduled for Oct. 6.

As usual, the Surfrider Foundation’s Galveston Chapter will participate in the cleanup that day. For more information, check out the chapter’s website at

Stephen Hadley is a longtime surfer who lives and works in Galveston. If you have an idea for this column, email him at

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