Most things on planet Earth grow. It’s just that some grow bigger and faster than others.
The fastest growing is the bacteria Bacillus stearothermophilus which can double in size every 10 minutes, while mountains, being dependent upon periodic tectonic shifts, are arguably the slowest. In the world of plants, the sequoia is both the fastest and tallest. As for the mammals, blue whales grow fastest, while humans grow slowest. The red kangaroo grows the most, increasing its birth weight of 1 gram some 81,000 times to a maturity weight around 81kg.
The dictionary defines ‘growth’ as the process of increasing in size – be that economic, physical or personal. However, comedian George Carlin added a caveat, saying he was all in favour of personal growth ‘as long as it doesn’t include malignant tumours.’ American environmentalist Edward Abbey was on the same page. ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.’
Some humans are obsessed with growth. Mostly, they are the ones who already have the most and want much more. Meanwhile, economists drone on about the growth in GDP, big business and politicians spruik the mantra of growth in jobs, the Reserve Bank babble on about the rate of inflation, while the common man simply bemoans the increase in the price of beer. Whatever your position on the pyramid of wealth, the song remains the same – growth, growth, growth.
However, surfers have a different mindset. Growth doesn’t affect us; we’re only interested in catching waves. Well, that may have been true once, but since the release of The Endless Summer we’ve proved ourselves to be just as addicted as the rest of the asylum’s inmates. Today’s grommets have more boards in their quiver than most elders have had in their lifetime and no matter where you live, the ever-increasing crowds are mind boggling. Even if you live in Tasmania.
The reality is, that globally, surfing has grown 35 per cent in the past decade, with turnover predicted to reach $5.5 billion by 2027, and like everything else on the planet it’s on the verge of total gridlock.
Back in the days of The Endless Summer there appeared a man of vision. Someone who saw how fast the sport was growing and how he could grow by it. His name was Phillip Dexter who must rank as surfing’s innovation GOAT. He was behind Big Surf, the world’s first wavepool that opened in 1969, smack bang in the middle of the Sonoran Desert in Tempe, Arizona. It was to herald a new era. Delivering waves for the planet’s majority while unlocking a financial pipeline for the planet’s minority.