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World's best compete at surf ranch designed by Kelly Slater

World's best compete at surf ranch designed by Kelly Slater
John John Florence, of Hawaii, who is a 2017 World Surf League men's champion, does an aerial over the machine-groomed wave during practice with Team U.S.A. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Professional surfing is riding a new wave.

The World Surf League’s Founders’ Cup of Surfing takes place this weekend in Lemoore, Calif., about 30 miles south of Fresno, at the wave pool formerly known as the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch. Now, it’s called the WSL Surf Ranch. Five teams with five surfers each (three men and two women) representing the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Europe and the World will compete Saturday and Sunday.

The event will forever change pro surfing, proving that an event doesn’t need an ocean — just a man-made wave and the technology to make it economically feasible.

The corporatization and commercialization of surfing seems to irk many, judging by comments on social media platforms. But even to someone like Slater, an environmentalist who enjoys the natural setting of a corporate-free surf spot and was intimately involved in the development of the wave at the Surf Ranch, the evolution of pro surfing was inevitable.

LEMOORE, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018: Jordy Smith, of South Africa and currently of San Clemente
Jordy Smith, of South Africa competes for the World Team and scores a 9.0 after riding long right tube at the first-ever World Surf League Founder's Cup. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018: Cheering on pro surfers, Cesar Sanchez and his son, Lucas
Cesar Sanchez and his son, Lucas Sanchez, 13, of Costa Mesa, join a large crowd on the first day of the first-ever World Surf League Founder's Cup. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018: Stephanie Gilmore, of Australia, celebrates her long tube r
Stephanie Gilmore, of Australia, celebrates her long tube ride. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018: From left: Kelly Slater, l11-time WSL Men's Champion, Mark R
From left: Kelly Slater, 11-time world champion, Mark Richards, a four-time world champion from Australia, Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, a three-time world champion from Australia, and Shaun Tomson, a world champion from South Africa, wait for their turn to surf. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018: Surfers on a wave runner watch Kanoa Igarashi, of Hunting
Kanoa Igarashi, of Huntington Beach, turns high off the top of the 700-yard, high-performance, bi-directional wave that features barrel sections and maneuver sections at the WSL Surf Ranch. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018: Frankie Harrer, right, of Germany/Malibu, watches fellow p
Bianca Buitendag, of South Africa, rides a ski into position during a practice session before the Founder's Cup. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018: Pro surfer Bianca Buitendag, of South Africa, gets covered
Bianca Buitendag gets covered up by a perfectly sculpted 7-foot high left. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018: Pro surfers representing U.S.A. team John John Florence, lef
Surfers representing the U.S. team in the Founders' Cup — from left, John John Florence, Kolohe Andino and Lakey Peterson, of Montecito — warm up and stretch before a practice session. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018: Pro surfer Bianca Buitendag, of South Africa, who is compet
Bianca Buitendag, of South Africa, who is competing on the World Team, does a slashing turn on top of a machine-sculpted left. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018: Kolohe Andino, of San Clemente, rides a long tube ride duri
Kolohe Andino, of San Clemente, rides a long tube during practice with Team U.S.A. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018: Kanoa Igarashi, of Huntington Beach, stretches before rid
Kanoa Igarashi, of Huntington Beach, stretches before riding a wave that features both barrel and maneuver sections. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. -- FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018: Pro surfer Mick Fanning, of Australia, turns high off the to
Mick Fanning, of Australia, turns high off the top of a wave during a practice session before the Founder's Cup. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018: While riding the left, Gabriel Medina, of Brazil, does a
While riding the left, Gabriel Medina, of Brazil, catches air high above the man-made wave. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018: A surfer rides in a barrel, created by a machine that is
A surfer crouches in a barrel wave created by a machine that is pulled on a rail system. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. — FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2018: Kelly Slater, 11-time WSL Men's Champion, poses for a portra
Kelly Slater, 11-time WSL men's champion, teamed up with Adam Fincham, an associate professor of engineering at USC who specialized in fluid dynamics, to design the wave. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018: A child plays in the middle of a surfboard art installatio
A child plays in the middle of a surfboard art installation at the first-ever World Surf League Founder's Cup at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018: Fans line the Surf Ranch pool to watch pro surfing come to
Fans line the Surf Ranch pool to watch pro surfing come to rural California during the first-ever World Surf League Founder's Cup at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018: With a view of the team leader board, fans sit in trees an
With a view of the team leader board, fans sit in trees and line the Surf Ranch pool to watch pro surfing come to rural California during the first-ever World Surf League Founder's Cup at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018: Leonardo Fioravanti of Team Europe does an aerial at the f
Leonardo Fioravanti of Team Europe does an aerial at the first-ever World Surf League Founder's Cup at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
LEMOORE, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018: Fans line the Surf Ranch pool to watch pro surfing come to
Fans line the Surf Ranch pool to watch pro surfing come to rural California during the first-ever World Surf League Founder's Cup at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
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