Technology has changed everything: film, education, art, music, the way people interact, and of course, the sport of surfing. Advances in technology are shaping how audiences view the sport and the way surfers perform.
Previous technological discoveries like wave pools and surf parks (e.g., the Seagaia Ocean Dome in Japan, which closed due to extreme costs) have forever altered present conceptions of surfing performance. If one can maintain standard wave consistency, it could be possible to include the sport of surfing in the Olympics. The progression of board shapes, fin materials, and quad fins have also altered surfing standards and performance. Surfers can now perform colossal aerial maneuvers. Technology, specifically in Australia, has enabled scientists and health professionals to monitor athletes digitally in order to ensure peak athletic performances.
Presently, audiences are watching surf contests like the Roxy Pro Gold Coast 2014 live from local surf shops, the presence of their own homes, or even via their cell phones. They are tweeting and "insta-ing" their favorite surfing moments. Currently, there has been a rise of drones in the surf world. While some worry about safety concerns (Federal Aviation Administration), a photographer operating a drone enables surfers and spectators to obtain a bird's-eye view of the lineup. Technology has made the surfing audience larger. A larger audience directly impacts surfing performance.
Before the start of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast competition, for example, drones were used to capture aerial footage. GoPros are utilized by surfers in the water, cameramen are in the water, and the competition is broadcast live online. All of that pressure combined with better than usual wave conditions at Snappers riled the girls to perform. Arguably, some of the fiercest competition in women's surfing took place March 1st-9th.
Competitors are already flooding the market to rival current leaders in innovative underwater cameras and drones. In a free market economy, this means there is great demand for such technologies. In the future, surfing performances and audience interaction will be further enhanced by newer technologies. Thermography could be utilized to enhance images, to monitor a surfer's strengths, or even to view injuries during the event. Google Glass could be used for heat brackets, global language barriers, and cross-cultural interviews between the media and surfers. Also on the rise? The future of women's surfing performance. With such formidable technology comes the support and encouragement that women surfers have been longing for. The stiff competition at the 2014 Roxy Pro is evidence of the progressiveness of women's surfing alongside good waves, incredible technological advances, and a large, global audience.
During the waiting period, only four remain in the hunt for the coveted first place, light-blue, surfboard trophy: Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore, Bianca Buitendag, and Lakey Peterson.