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Sports trends 2017: Why you’ll be surfing your way through next year

US surfer Kelly Slater has been crowned World Surf League Champion a record 11 times, including five consecutive titles in 1994–98. — AFP pic
US surfer Kelly Slater has been crowned World Surf League Champion a record 11 times, including five consecutive titles in 1994–98. — AFP pic

LOS ANGELES, Dec 18 — After being announced as an official Olympic sport for Tokyo 2020, surfing looks set to enjoy a surge in popularity as one of the next biggest sports trends. If you’re looking for something new to try in 2017, here we round up some of the reasons why you should swop your workout gear for a wetsuit next year.

Olympic status

This past August it was announced that for the first time ever surfing would be classed as an Olympic sport after being added to the Tokyo 2020 sports program. The news was celebrated by many surfers around the world who were thrilled that their favourite sport had finally gained such recognition. With this new focus on surfing, set to grow in the next four years leading up to the Games, a whole new group and generation could be feeling inspired to go surfing.

Man-made waves

After surfing legend Kelly Slater released a short video on his Instagram page back in December 2015 of him riding a man-made wave, surfers spent 2016 trying to find out more about Slater’s mysterious — and impressive — wave machine. In development for ten years, the Kelly Slater Wave Company has finally created what seems to be the perfect wave, which could change surfing forever. Although purists argue that the ocean is the real place to surf, located 110 miles from the coast in California, the wave pool technology could give those in landlocked or inner cities areas who dream of riding the waves the chance to learn. Although Slater’s Wave is not open to the public, with Slater and the team describing it as a “prototype” and “a research laboratory,” man-made waves are taking off in some areas previously not associated with surfing. In Texas, Surf Austin at NLand opened to much fanfare in October this year to offer a variety of different waves to cater for all levels of surfer, while Surf Snowdonia, located in Wales, UK, just celebrated its one-year anniversary, producing around 195,000 waves since its opening.

More female surfers

As women are starting to receive more recognition in the sport of surfing, 2017 could see more girls encouraged to take up the sport. Huge surfing event Titans of Mavericks finally added a long-awaited women’s heat into the competition which started last month and ends in March next year — good news for female surfers who had long been fighting for inclusion. The World Surf League also added for the very first time a Women’s Championship event for 2016, with hopefully more inclusion to come in 2017. — AFP-Relaxnews

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