The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

September 23, 2013

Surf industry hopes wave parks will help expand sport

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. — Some of surfing’s biggest names aren’t just catching waves. They’re also talking about making them.

Surf parks — massive pools with repeating, artificial waves — are the latest buzzword in the surf community, as everyone from top athletes to retailers look for ways to expand the sport, boost sales and create a standardized way to train that could help surfing earn an Olympic pedigree.

“Mother Nature stipulates that surfing only can occur where waves can be born. When man takes his hand to forming the waves, it unlocks the potential of surfing anywhere. And that is the most powerful thing,” said Doug Palladini, president of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association.

This month, dozens of industry leaders, surfers and investors met in Laguna Beach in Southern California for the first annual Surf Park Summit to spark interest in a business proposition that could breathe life into a sport that struggled during the recession.

About 50 percent of independent, mom-and-pop surf retailers — the heart and soul of surf culture — shut down worldwide during the recession and those that survived face an increasingly saturated market that is limited by geography.

Enter the dream surf park, a 2-acre wave pool capable of generating anything from tiny beginner ripples to 10-foot barrels every minute, with every wave the same. Customers would pay by the number of waves to learn the sport or refine their technique and learn new tricks.

The prospect has surf board manufacturers and apparel retailers salivating at the thought of new markets for surf gear and clothing in land-locked places like Kansas or Nebraska. But parks would also be prime real estate for sponsored surfing competitions that would draw both eyeballs and dollars.

At the summit, speakers tossed out tantalizing what-ifs: A national surfing league, much like the NBA, with feeder teams and city affiliations. Live, televised surfing competitions staged with predictable waves in a massive surf arena.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Organizers confident of safe race

    BOSTON — The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week....

    April 17, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Supremacist faces murder charges

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The white supremacist charged in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City made his first court appearance Tuesday....

    April 16, 2014

  • Iran cuts nuclear weapons ability

    VIENNA — The United Nations will release a report this week certifying that Iran’s ability to make a nuclear bomb has been greatly reduced because it has diluted half of its material that can be turned most quickly into weapons-grade ...

    April 16, 2014

  • People with old Social Security debts get reprieve

    WASHINGTON — People with old Social Security debts are getting a reprieve — for now....

    April 16, 2014

  • Solemn tributes mark anniversary

    BOSTON — Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after bombs

    BOSTON — A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded....

    April 15, 2014

  • Feds abruptly end roundup

    Federal land managers abruptly ended the roundup of cattle on public land in southern Nevada owned by a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority, citing a “serious concern” for the safety of employees and the public....

    April 13, 2014

  • Calif. crash probe includes limiting bus fires

    ORLAND, Calif. — A new twist was added to the investigation of a crash involving a tour bus and FedEx tractor-trailer that killed 10 people when a couple said the big rig already was on fire when it careened across a median and sideswiped ...

    April 13, 2014

  • Disappointment, forgiveness mix in La.

    MONROE, La. — To Louisiana voters accustomed to tawdry scandals involving elected officials, disappointment with an eye toward forgiveness is the prevailing sentiment about their new congressman, caught on video embracing an aide married ...

    April 13, 2014