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Dissecting surfing for fun and profit (mostly profit)

Imagine if scientists could measure every aspect of a surfer’s performance from tracking where they look when they are riding a wave to how stoked they are when sitting in the lineup. Imagine the insights this information could give a surfer into their own performance and how it would enable them to “improve” it? Sounds like science fiction doesn’t it, but that is exactly what the team at Redbull working on.

The Surf Nomad is generally in favour of technological advancement but watching this video leaves us thinking that this level of performance monitoring just seems to be pushing the “Sport” of surfing further and further away from the “lifestyle” from which it stemmed.  Perhaps out into strange waters from which it will never return.

So who benefits from this rectal examination of the surfing experience?

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1. Is it the average surfer?  It’s likely that none of this crap is ever going to mean anything for us.
2. Is it the competitors themselves? Yes it’s possible that this level of introspection could help competitors improve their chances of winning a small share of the fairly poor prize pools offered.
3. Or is it Redbull who will make billions selling caffeinated water off the back of the kids’ performances? Hmmmmm.

You’re not stoked enough!
We recently watched a dad coaching his son at our local beach. The old Nomad’s heart was warmed to see the salty old dog looking on as his pup carved up the little peaks. After a few waves, the dad calls his son in, to impart to him the benefits of his wisdom. We had expected to see the guy pat the lad on the shoulder gently encouraging him to push off his back foot when he does a cut back or bend his knees more into his bottom turn but that was not the case.

When the lad hit the beach it became clear that his performance, far from meeting the expectations of dear old dad, had actually enraged the man. Instead of delivering the gentle fatherly advice we had presumed would be forthcoming the father tore strips off the kid, in what could only be termed a military style dressing down.

Seeing this clip made us think of that kid and his dad and how much worse it would have been if that dad had access to the kind of information that Redbull is researching. Imagine that boy trying to perfect his skills with his father shouting in his ear via a waterproof headset.

“You’re not Stoked enough!  How can you expect to win if you don’t show the judges how stoked you are?”

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The best things in life are still free
We know that competitive surfing has, for better or worse, become a “legitimate” sport but as much as the corporate sponsors might try to own it, there’s still a few aspects of surfing that can’t be bought or sold.  The Redbull science team might be able to measure the stoke of pulling into a barrel and making it out clean but they sure can’t bottle it.  That can still be yours for free.
At least for now.

Carve On!

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