Kelly Slater needs no introduction, and after the 2015 unveiling of his prototype wave pool, it came as no surprise that the greatest surfer of all time had helped create the best artificial wave of all time. KSWaveco began in 2008 with a well-publicized endless-ring pool concept that promised infinite rides. He would end up in a legal battle with Australian surfboard shaper Greg Webber over patents to that idea, but both have since abandoned the ring pool concept for the simpler linear version that Wavegarden pioneered in 2010, which drags a hydrofoil down a track through a body of water to create waves. Kelly’s wavepool is the longest ever created, 2100 feet from end to end, which translates to 30 seconds of barreling bliss.
Slater’s private prototype is located at a re-purposed 10.2 acre waterski lake in a rural Central California farm town called Lemoore. The company has been extremely secretive about any details of their technology, but industry rumors have suggested that their major issues are wave frequency and operational costs, which are both vital to profitability.
The first mind-numbing videos released went viral globally and immediately put the surf park industry in the media spotlight. Unfortunately for KSWaveco, their technology wasn’t commercially ready to capitalize on the exposure and to date no projects have gotten underway. In 2016 the World Surf League announced that they had bought KSWaveco, though further research would suggest that this was a foregone conclusion as the Ziff family that finances the WSL has been a major investor in KSWaveco for some time. In early 2017, Slater himself alluded to some adjustments in their prototype, namely changed to the bathymetry to create sections for maneuvers, and the addition of a left-handed wave. The surf world is collectively holding its breath for KSWaveco to figure out a way to commercialize their technology so that we can all lock into one of their mesmerizingly flawless barrels.