Bobby Martinez, Australia. Photo: Seth de Roulet
Bobby Martinez, Australia. Photo: Seth de Roulet

Bobby Martinez: “Wave Pools Are Desperate”

Pro surfing's favorite gadfly tells Men's Journal what he really thinks

Bobby Martinez apparently made a big impression on the Men’s Journal. I’ll admit, I don’t read the magazine much, but I was surprised to see them hang an interview with Bobby front and center on their homepage this weekend. But they also referred to Parko and Taj by their last names only in the intro, so maybe they’ve got a real big surf audience.

They asked Bobby about his departure from the World Tour (yawn), his financial situation after (sits up, takes notice), and his opinion on wave pools and the Olympics (reads attentively).

Here’s an excerpt, but head over to check out the whole shebang here.

MJ: So, there’s no right way to do surfing as an Olympic event?

BM: It's not an Olympic sport. You can't do it everywhere the Olympics will be held. What are they going to do when they have it in, say, Athens again? There are no waves in Greece. Maybe they need to only have surfing when it’s in a place that works, like L.A., and they could make the gold medal more prestigious, like have it in the Olympics every 16 years when it's held somewhere that makes sense.

MJ: What're your feeling towards the surfers who might participate?

BM: I think they're just going wherever their sponsors tell them to go. I don't think they have a voice, or else they would have been speaking out when I spoke out. So, if their sponsors want them to chase that gold medal, they either gotta shut up and do it, or that's it. At the same time, there are a lot of surfers who would love that gold medal. It's the Olympics. For some of these guys this is going to be bigger than the World Title. Unfortunately, the best surfer probably won't be the one who wins. And if the best guy does win, it's probably going to be pushed, because they want him to win. That's just the way surfing works.

MJ: I hate to say it, but don't wave pools solve this problem?

BM: [Building] wave pools is just being desperate, hoping to make surfing something it's not. Surfing isn't done in a pool. Surfing's done in the ocean. I mean, are you fucking really going to travel to Kansas to surf the world's best wave pool? You could be going to Namibia to surf some of the world's best waves. That's what makes surfing, surfing. A lot of wave pools aren't even salt water. I'm telling you, if you surf a wave pool your whole life, you're going to eventually go to the ocean and surf some real waves. Wave pools will never be the answer. The ocean is the answer, and that's it.

MJ: Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch is practically in your backyard — only about 200 miles away. Would you surf his 'perfect barrel' if you got an invite?

BM: Maybe if it was literally in my backyard. But, no, I wouldn't drive to it.

[Featured Image: Photo by de Roulet]