A unexpected venue allows surfers’ skills to truly be on display

A Surfing Competition—in a Lake?!
Andrea M. Gómez
Heading out to meet the waves in Huntington Beach.

Sand, sun, title-holding athletes from across the globe—this weekend’s inaugural World Surf League’s Founders’ Cup of Surfing had all of the makings for an international competition, minus the ocean. The unlikely location? The charming pioneer town of Lemoore, California, more than 100 miles inland from Monterey.

The historic Central Valley town is home to the cutting-edge Surf Ranch facility, which has spent two years creating the perfect wave, guided by the vision of world champion surfer Kelly Slater. The bi-directional wave is created when a massive metal device moves on a track across a 700-yard man-made lake, with special barrel and maneuver sections for competitors to show off their skills. Without the uncertainty of mother nature’s weather and water conditions thrown into the mix, surfers could be judged only on performance.

Though it’s welcomed practicing surfers and a few competitions since 2015, the facility opened its doors to the public for the first time this weekend. Five co-ed teams competed from the U.S.A., Australia, Europe, Brazil, and the World, with the World team rising from the ranks to take home the gold. The ranch will continue to be a training ground for surfers, and also plans to host The World Surf League’s Men’s and Women’s Championship Tour this fall.

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