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On a California Ranch, perfect conditions for Pro Surfing

By Jane Doe | 2min read

The world’s top professional surfers got a glimpse of their competitive future on Tuesday: an assembly line of perfect waves, each one identical to the one before it, and all breaking at perfectly timed intervals. The strange part? The surf was created by a manufactured wave system, and the whole thing took place on a man-made lake in the middle of central California.

It’s kind of like a brand new toy that you’ve been wanting for a long time

The long-rumored test event was hosted by the World Surf League behind closed doors at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, Calif., and unofficially called both the Future Classic and the Test. Each wave is manufactured for the perfect ride by a 70-ton hydrofoil, with each one breaking in a scheduled succession across 700 yards of a lake originally constructed for water-skiing. Slater, a former world champion, has spent nearly a decade pioneering the technology.

In the test event, instead of getting a certain amount of time to surf, athletes were allotted a number of waves. Their performances were then compared in a leaderboard format. If a surfer wiped out, there was no hoping for a good set of waves on the horizon. That change in mentality was one of the biggest differences. “It was nerve-racking,” the professional surfer Carissa Moore said Tuesday night. “There are no excuses. There’s no Mother Nature. It’s all you. You have one chance.”

Moore, an American, was able to tame her nerves and won the women’s event. Gabriel Medina, a Brazilian, ended the day atop the men’s leaderboard. In the test event, instead of getting a certain amount of time to surf, athletes were allotted a number of waves. Their performances were then compared in a leaderboard format. If a surfer wiped out, there was no hoping for a good set of waves on the horizon. That change in mentality was one of the biggest differences. “It was nerve-racking,” the professional surfer Carissa Moore said Tuesday night. “There are no excuses. There’s no Mother Nature. It’s all you. You have one chance.”