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Underground VS Commercial Surfing

Aktualisiert: 27. Okt. 2020

A lot of concerns on behalf of pro surfers and other skilled aficionados about the going-mainstream of the surf sport are centered on the preservation of the original surf spirit, focused on freedom, nature and the easy life on the beach. This is especially true since pumped wave solutions made their entrance and increased surfer numbers in all social strata and age segments. // It is often thought that pro-surfers attach a number of worries to the going-mainstream of the surf sport. These worries are often centered on the loss or watering-down of the original surf spirit, connected to freedom and enjoyment of the ocean by a chosen few, who understand and cherish it. Both visions, to “keep surfing underground and limited to a certain number of people” and to “go mainstream and increase the number of surfers”, have pros and cons, and both may significantly influence, how the sport will develop in the coming years.

Despite the arguments of both camps, the number of surfers has increased dramatically in recent years. Before surfing had registered a huge increase in surfer numbers also in landlocked areas and pumped artificial waves had been established, people in continental regions could only surf on river waves. Their locations were often kept secret, because locals wanted to keep “their” waves to themselves, reduce waiting times and eliminate the risk of closure in the case of accidents. In these early days of landlocked surfing, river waves offered free training grounds for surfers, who gained personal attention for this unusual kind of sport.

The first artificial surfing waves were installed in 2005 and river surfers were largely critical of this new movement. Their critique included that plastic waves could not compare with beautiful outdoor spots, energy consumption was unethical or at least wasteful and that new energy production sites in rivers could destroy river waves for good. Finally, a price would have to be charged for something that had been enjoyed for free before. Also, river surfers were disappointed about the growing surf community, also in river surfing, which was fueled by a rise in new artificial wave surfers. This diminished river surfers’ chances for sharing the spotlight or receiving pro contracts. In addition, new pumped wave solutions were driven by investment interest and not by surf communities themselves. This, in their mind, could water down the original surfing spirit, while the sport was in danger of becoming overly populated by rich kids and beginners. Also, interest in river wave surfing might drop, because the new technology increased competition among surf spots and new pumping technology did not contribute directly to river wave surfing. But new technologies also created a number of advantages for all surfer groups, which outweigh the negative aspects just mentioned. First, new sports facilities are built for people of all ages and skill levels, which has positive impacts on public health and creates new venues for social interaction. Also, new opportunities arise for instructors, coaches, equipment manufacturers, competition organizers as well as amateur and pro surfers. Finally, new rivers spots may emerge and new wave technologies broaden the surfing opportunities for everyone, who wants to engage in this fascinating sport.

In the future, there will be newly developed surf spots in all parts of the world, with new technologies and new projects emerging everywhere. Therefore, the coming years will be highly motivating and highly challenging. At UpSurfDown we aim at creating a solution for connecting/integrating all players in the surfing industry, including river surfing. We will offer coaches and instructors the opportunity to teach students in our surf school. Coaches will closely collaborate with our surf shop and we plan to work with equipment manufacturers for improving surf tech and tools. We are actively collaborating with external consultants from the river surf scene to improve our surfing experience, and of course we aim to integrate sustainable energy concepts into our surfing solutions to minimize our ecological footprint. We know about the importance of the river surf community for the surf sport and feel highly attached to the original surfing spirit and the values it represents. Therefore, we wish to cherish our past and plan the future together!

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