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The Evolution of Surf Park Culture

It’s no secret that surfing has its own distinct culture. In fact, The Atlantic published an article in 2017 titled, “Is Surfing More Sport or Religion?”. Perfected in the Hawaiian islands, then shared with the world throughout the early 20th century, surfing is a sport that connects millions of saltwater enthusiasts all over the world every day with shared experiences. But what happens in a world where freshwater surfing in human-made pools takes place vast distances from the nearest coastline? This is precisely the question that our panel, titled “The Evolution of Surf Park Culture,” sought to answer a few weeks ago at Surf Park Summit 2021 in San Diego.

Our Surf Park Summit surf park culture panel brought together surfing legends and surf park innovators to explore the history of surfing culture and discuss the future of surf park culture. Wave Pool Magazine explored this topic leading up to Summit, with founder Bryan Dickerson talking with some of the panelists ahead of the event.

Surf Culture panelist, Ian Kanga Cairns

As Bryan pointed out, surfing culture has come along way, especially since the days of surfer stereotypes given to us by movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But how will it evolve now with the growth and evolution of surf parks? As Bryan writes, “The panelists we spoke to believe that the advent of wave pool surfing will ripple throughout surf culture, penetrating formerly surf-less communities and expanding diversity in the sport while also raising the performance bar.”

Among the panelists of our surf park culture panel was surfing world champion and Co-Founder, Ian “Kanga” Cairns. As Kanga pointed out in the article, the world has an “insatiable appetite for all things surf.” “(The) ISA World Games in 1999 had 31 countries, (in) 2021 it had 51 countries,” said Kanga, noting that 2023 could see 100 countries in the event. “The Olympics will rapidly accelerate this trend.”

Andrew Thatcher, VP of Business Development at Endless Surf

The stoke is high for surf park companies, too. Andrew Thatcher, VP of Business Development at Endless Surf, moderated the surf park culture panel. As he put it, “We’re in the embryonic stage of the Surf Park Industry, and here we are, growing it together. How could you not be stoked?”

Below, check out a clip from our surf park culture panel. Interested in attending Surf Park Summit 2022? Pre-register for early bird pricing here.

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