The year was 2011. A mysterious video appears on the internet from a Spanish company calling themselves ‘Wavegarden’. The video shows a misty mountain valley, not a breath of wind disturbs the mirror-glass lake shown in frame, when the unthinkable happens: a perfect wave appears and peels in trance-inducing fashion across the length of the lagoon. The thud of jaws hitting keyboards was almost audible. It was a glimmer of hope after decades of disappointment for surfers who have long dreamt about surfing perfect waves beyond the whims of the sea.
Flash-forward 6 months: A young Naval Lieutenant named Kenan Knieriem Jr, finds himself lost in the Spanish countryside, surrounded by endless sunflower fields as far as his jet-lagged eyes can see. Keno had graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he studied and designed hydrofoils, inspired by a childhood spent atop surfboards and boats in Hawaii. While plenty of surfers are experts on surfing, and plenty of engineers are experts on hydrofoils, not many can claim they are both. This is why Keno finds himself lost in a foreign land, trying to recall which side of the road to drive on, and in what direction.
Keno had contacted Wavegarden when the video had first appeared, like thousands of other curious surfers and entrepreneurs, but his unique background set him apart from the rest. Keno not only knew they were using a hydrofoil to create their wave, but he understood how and why, and in the summer of 2011 they invited him to San Sebastian, Spain, to visit their test lagoon and understand their vision for the future.
After flying into Madrid and making the ill-advised 7 hour trek, he arrived at Wavegarden’s test facility, buried deep in the Basque Mountains, greeted by inventor Josema Odriozola, his wife, Karin, and his brother Fernando Odriozola. The next 48 hours would prove to be life-changing for Keno. Wavegarden was looking to work with young savvy surfer/entrepreneurs who shared their ideals and vision. Such a groundbreaking technology would undoubtedly change surfing forever, and in the wrong hands could jeopardize the very stoked and lifestyle they were trying to perpetuate. It soon became clear that both Keno and his new Spanish friends shared the same vision for their technology: Surfing is not a commodity to be bought and sold, it’s meant to be shared.
Several subsequent visits would culminate in a partnership to help bring Wavegarden’s mesmerizing waves to Hawaii, California, and beyond.