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Surf industry hopes surf parks will expand sport

LAGUNA BEACH — Some of surfing's biggest names aren't just catching waves. They're also talking about making them.

Surf parks — massive pools with repeating, artificial waves — are the latest buzzword in the surf community, as everyone from top athletes to retailers look for ways to expand the sport, boost sales and create a standardized way to train that could help surfing earn an Olympic pedigree.

"Mother Nature stipulates that surfing only can occur where waves can be born. When man takes his hand to forming the waves, it unlocks the potential of surfing anywhere. And that is the most powerful thing," said Doug Palladini, president of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association.

This month, dozens of industry leaders, surfers and investors met in Laguna Beach in Southern California for the first annual Surf Park Summit to spark interest in a business proposition that could breathe life into a sport that struggled during the recession.

About 50 percent of independent, mom-and-pop surf retailers — the heart and soul of surf culture — shut down worldwide during the recession and those that survived face an increasingly saturated market that is limited by geography.


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