Surfing competitions are typically viewed from on shore and far away, but that's not the case at the WSL Surf Ranch in th Central Valley town of Lemoore, where spectators will get an up-close view of the action at the World Surf League Freshwater Pro Championship Sept. 19–21—perfectly timed for California Surfing Day on Sept. 20. Top surfing pros will compete for the championship title on the man-made wave created by 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater and the Kelly Slater Wave Company.
The artificial barrel, which stretches across a 2,000-foot-long wave pool, has been touted as the "perfect wave" due to its consistent, predictable break. Given that the wave machine could potentially be replicated in other non-ocean locations, many have wondered how it will change the future of surfing. The company spent a decade developing it on the Lemoore property, which is about 40 minutes south of Fresno, and first opened it for non-public competition in 2017. Outside of signing up for a private hour-long session (which costs upward of $10,000, according to ESPN.com), the facility has only hosted the public on a few occasions—which is why the upcoming event is a big deal.
Interested in seeing the sport's best go head-to-head? Tickets are still available as of press time. The $55 general admission, available for Saturday, Sept. 21 only, includes access to the event grounds to watch Round 2 competitions, soak in the lake, enjoy concessions, and see The Raconteurs concert on Saturday night. A $299 single-day VIP pass gets you all of the general admission amenities plus two drink tickets and access to the VIP deck and concert area. The two-day VIP pass ($499) adds in access to another day of competition on Friday, which also includes an intimate meet-and-greet with athletes and coaches. Children under 10 get in free with a paid adult.
For the ultimate weekend, WSL is offering a Surf Ranch Experience for $5499, which includes all the regular VIP access plus a personal concierge, seating in a cabana with unobstructed wave views, two one-hour surf sessions (including food, photography, and equipment), and much more. Contact email@example.com for an even more extensive private experience.
Good news for parents: On Saturday, there's a kids' area—the Grom Zone—with beach games, surf lessons, sandcastle building contests, and arts and crafts.
Interested in experiencing the best of California surfing? Check out these 9 ways to celebrate California Surfing Day, consider one of these unique surfing vacations, and scope out the best California surf shops.