Micro’s Aventuur Adventure

Surfline | 2 November, 2021

When it comes to wave pools, renowned super-coach Glenn “Micro” Hall can’t really put his finger on a come-to-Jesus moment. All he knows is that at first, he was a sceptic.

“Like a lot of us who’ve been surfing for a while, I wasn’t quite sure how it could fit,” he tells us. “How could it replace the ocean?”

But after a couple of years of coaching in ‘em, Micro had a minor revelation: Wave pools don’t make sense without the ocean. The two can work in sync — indeed they kinda have to.

That’s part of why he and his renowned Micro Surf Academy have joined forces with surf park developer Aventuur to work on a training, coaching and high performance curriculum specifically designed for wave pool environments — yet tuned toward your next step back into the surf.

You might not have heard of Aventuur. The company, which just won a tender to build a Wavegarden Cove-based surf park in Cockburn just south of Perth, is a newcomer to the slowly expanding Australian wave pool scene.

But Aventuur has wave-pool in its DNA. One of the partners in the business is Andrew Ross — the only person so far to have led a successful commercial pool set-up in the Southern Hemisphere.

Andrew founded URBNSRF and spearheaded the company’s Tullamarine project, seeing it up and running before parting ways last year (he still remains a shareholder).

Aventuur spokesperson Rupert Partridge says they plan to commence construction at Cockburn in late 2022, subject to government approvals. He says the company has big plans beyond their Perth site. The company says it’s planning to develop surf parks both in Australia and overseas, including in Queensland, northern NSW, New Zealand and Singapore.

But back to Micro and his conversion.

As we suggested above, it’s happened over time, mostly through coaching his elite pro clients. “I’d done a fair bit at Kelly’s pool — Surfing Australia’s pre-Olympic sessions and all the CT events there.

“Then I did some technique coaching with Molly Picklum in Melbourne. I left with a whole new idea on pools after that. My to-do list grew every time.”

As we all know, surfing is a sport with many faces. The key in pools for Micro is the technical aspect — adjustments in turns and trim lines that while small, might evade you in normal surf zones for months or even years.

“If someone comes in from their half hour session in the surf, you might think ‘Oh I’d love to tune in on this or that movement,’” he says. “But the situation, the wave, might not repeat itself for another hour. They might not even catch a wave for ten minutes. Meanwhile you’re on the beach, you can’t talk with them, there’s no communication.

“In a pool, it’s like, first turn, try this. Second turn, try it again. Video it, hop out, watch the clip for feedback, hop back in, try it again. It’s so rare to be able to do that in a normal surf zone. It’s just not available.”

Different pools present different opportunities. Kelly’s pool, Micro quickly discovered, was all about the barrel — especially for the girls. Even at elite levels, there were gaps in their skill sets.

“There were reasons for that,” he says. “Historically, girls haven’t been considered as equals in the lineup. I’m thankful that it’s changing, but in the past when it pumped at top pointbreaks, slabs or heavy sandbars, the local guys and older crew would froth out and take over, and the girls couldn’t get a look in. And the less time you spend getting tubed, the less comfortable you are.

“But just having a clean canvas to tune in on, taking the crowd and hierarchy out of the equation, and having another one come through exactly the same each time, they went from zero to 100 real fast.”

That experience has Micro psyched to see how wave pools can accelerate the learning curve for girls and women, developing skill-sets to set them up for heavier surf zones in the first place: “It’s a game-changer.”

In the Wavegarden, he says, it’s about range of movement. Studies of expertise have shown that in order to learn or re-learn a movement, you’d need to repeat it within 90 seconds. That’s a definition of quality practice, and while you might pull it off once every coupla months in a small wind-swell rip bowl, those chances aren’t super common in the wild.
A pool pushing sets out over and over for hours, similar size and shape every time — different story.

But it was another, more personal experience at the Melbourne pool that spun Micro around. At Kelly’s pool, there’s only one wave every few minutes; the rest of the time there’s just a small lake looking at you.

In the Wavegarden, there’s waves all the time. “Like a normal spot,” is how Micro describes its effect on him. “I walked in and I couldn’t get my wettie on quick enough. That inner froth comes out. It’s really interesting.”

In Perth, he’s planning to set up a coaching structure and syllabus covering all the skills — usable in the pool, but transferable to the ocean. Pure wave-riding skills, yeah, but also surf safety and etiquette, environmental awareness, and dealing with others in the water.

“There’s a fine line between gross localism and keeping a lineup safe. We want to teach inclusion. The pool is the one spot where you’ll get a first-time surfer and a highly skilled surfer and everyone in between, in the same place. It’s like you’ve come to the sickest offshore beachie and everyone’s having fun.”

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