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Hang Ten with ABC’s ‘Ultimate Surfer’


I can’t help but question ABC’s decision to pull out The Ultimate Surfer at the end of summer rather than at the beginning. And then waiting about three weeks after the Olympic Games (when interest in surfing was high) and during the dog days. On one hand, this could work in the network’s favor in that while other networks are burning off episodes of shows they no longer intend to run in the fall, ABC is airing new content. Then again, waiting until the end of the season could signal the network’s lack of confidence in the show. (Does anyone remember ABC’s last show that premiered so late?) Then again, I suspect that the network is hoping to grab ahold of the “Bachelor Nation” by airing back to back shows on Mondays and Tuesdays right on the heals of The Bachelorette.

Tia Blanco, Kai Barger, Juli Hernandez, Austin Clouse, Kayla Durden (Front Row), and Bruna Zaun, Zeke Lau, Brianna Cope, Alejandro Moreda, Mason Barnes, Malia Ward, Koa Smith, Luke Davis, Anastasia Ashley (Back Row) (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

In any case, The Ultimate Surfer appears to be a unique show all its own. It’s a sports competition series, but it wasn’t shot out in the ocean but within World Surf League’s “Surf Ranch” in Lemoore, California. The site will using Kelly Slater’s human-made wave machine, which is essentially the only way to make an “even playing field” for the contestants, but even so, it’s not exactly the Wide World of Sports. But it’s not silly like Holey Moley either.

From the commercials for The Ultimate Surfer, it appears to feature some bantering between surfers around the campfire and whatnot as well, but this isn’t another version of Bachelor in Paradise either. In fact, in one promo, one female surfer states that if she were looking for a date, she would have applied on that show.

Jesse Palmer, Erin Coscarelli, and Joe Turpel. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

So here’s the scoop. Fourteen up-and-coming surfers will train and live together at Surf Ranch in hopes of winning $100,000 and the opportunity to compete on the WSL Championship Tour, the pinnacle of professional surfing. Former NFL quarterback Jesse Palmer is hosting the show along with sports anchor Erin Coscarelli and Joe Turpel serving as commentators. Eleven-time surfing world champion Kelly Slater is the lead consultant and also serves as a special correspondent on the series.

ABC says that “alliances and rivalries will be front and center” in The Ultimate Surfer as men and women compete in individual and team challenges focused on specific surfing disciplines. Weekly eliminations will leave two men and two women as finalists who will vie for the male and female titles of The Ultimate Surfer. Slater’s remarkable, one-of-a-kind, human-made wave—the most even playing field for measuring surf mastery—is at the heart of the series.

The Ultimate Surfer debuts on Monday and Tuesday, August 23 and 24 at 10 p.m.

Main Image: ABC

Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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