In 1976, the best surfers in the world began seeking Quiksilver because they were the best. The combination of Velcro, snaps and a high waistband made them grip hips and stay on, even in the largest waves. Before long, Hawaii-based Americans such as Hakman sported them. Soon, the surf mags were running photo after photo of pros gliding down famous waves such as Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach while wearing them—the best advertising imaginable. ... From its garage-like space, Quiksilver swelled. Within 10 years, it became the first publicly listed surfwear company; soon after, it opened boutiques in New York, Paris, London and Dubai. And by 2004, it announced annual earnings that exceeded $1 billion. ... the brand has crashed mightily ever since, leading up to this past Sept. 9, when Quiksilver sought relief in a Delaware bankruptcy court from $826 million in debt ... "Rossignol, I think, was the thing that killed Quiksilver in itself," Pezman says. "When you try to be all to everyone, you lose the support system. When you de-specialize, you lose your attraction to the specialized markets you had."
Plenty of surf blog commenters fretted over the potential that a machine-generated swell down the road from an Indian casino could ruin the mystique of a sport that depends entirely on the whims of nature and that requires its best athletes to chase waves in beautiful and exotic places. Others welcomed the idea of a realistic artificial wave that could bring surfing to landlocked states and countries, allow surfers to refine their skills without waiting for nature to provide a swell, enable resorts to focus activity around surf pools instead of golf courses, and even, perhaps, provide a way for surfing to achieve full medal status by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. ... Recreational man-made waves have been around since the 1970s. If you’ve been on a cruise ship, you may have seen a FlowRider, on which a rider on a special board attempts to surf in place while water rushes past. But the quest to develop an authentic simulacrum of what pros ride at the world’s top breaks has proved elusive. Every so often, a concept emerges, then washes out. ... From talking to surfers, Fincham learned that the best waves in nature were typically associated with a swell that could be described mathematically as a “solitary wave” or “soliton.” This is a wave that covers immense distances while maintaining its shape and velocity until something disrupts it—for instance, a reef or the shore. That became his target in the warehouse pool.