Fresno Beehive

Brazil, Tahiti, South Africa and … Lemoore? World Surf League sets 2018 tour stops

There’s an oddity among the 11 destinations on the World Surf League’s 2018 Championship Tour, listed right between Teahupoʻo, Tahiti, and Landes, France.

It’s Surf Ranch, the 2,000-foot-long pond that delivers perfect waves 100 miles from the ocean.

The facility, just outside Lemoore, was built at the behest of surf legend Kelly Slater and has been a not-so-hidden secret among the surfing community since 2015, when Slater posted a video of himself riding an eight-foot wave inside the pool.

In September, Surf Ranch hosted its first professional event, with hundreds of invited spectators and 18 of the world’s top competitors.

That event, coupled with feedback from surfers using the ranch as a training facility this year, drove the league to include it as a spot on the tour.

“California’s Central Valley now boasts a world-class wave,” said World Surf League commissioner Kieren Perro in a statement.

“This technology, and its ability to deliver high-quality waves at any location in the world, opens so many possibilities for how we can complement and evolve the competitive experience.”

So, while the ranch may seem out of place among international locals like Rio de Janeiro and Jeffreys Bay on the East Cape of South Africa (another two of the tour’s stops), it provide a whole new set of opportunities for riders, said Sage Erickson, a surfer on the championship tour.

“We now have the opportunity to schedule events in advance, guaranteed high-quality waves, fair opportunity for all surfers and a totally new and unique environment for spectators. One of the takeaways from this season’s test event is surfers really have to bring their whole approach – barrels, turns, airs, carves and timing – to make an impact. It’s going to be incredible,” he said.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee