It has been over 2 months since we issued our 2017 Wavepool Technology review, and there have been a handful of updates worthy of mention:
Kelly Slater Wave Co
Two new tidbits of information out of the KSWC camp:
First, they have been hard at work rebuilding their prototype wave pool that stunned the surf world and beyond back in 2015. According to Mr. Slater, the improvements will include sections in the wave and the addition of a left as well. No confirmation yet if this means the hydrofoil will become multi-directional or if they are building a mirror-image on the other side of the foil, or possibly both? (like Wavegarden’s orginial ‘Lagoon’ designs in Austin, and Snowdonia). Hopefully their new changes can drastically increase the wave frequency issue with their technology.
From Kelly via his instagram:
“This prototype system in Lemoore was created to prove out the fundamental concept of the design and technology, our version 1.0. That wave blew my mind, but I also immediately saw ways we could improve it. We got right to work in the lab. The feedback we received from dozens of surfers (not only CT level) was incredibly helpful. And a few months ago we did what obsessive people do: we took something great and took it apart to create something even better. This will mean more waves, more sections and the goofy footers might be pretty excited too. Also, I can’t say officially, but there’s some exciting projects on the horizon and I look forward to sharing more with you as the year unfolds.”
Second, their test facility in Lemoore, a small farm town in Central California, is slated to become a commercially operating ‘surf ranch’, meaning that the rural community outside of Fresno could become California’s first inland surfing destination. With a small local population (26k) that are largely outside of their likely target demographics, the Surf Ranch will be a destination, with lodging, food/bev, and retail components as well as the home of future World Surf League Events. The NY Times article below talks about the new plans for the Lemoore facility:
“Greg Gatzka, community development director for Kings County, said permits now under review would let the companies expand the site with a campground, performance stage and eating venues. The plans called for events that draw 10,000 people, he said.
In a statement, the World Surf League said the Lemoore “Surf Ranch” was a research and training facility. Mr. Slater declined to talk. But a couple of months ago, on Instagram, he said the pool was being retooled to be “even better”. Until now, the Lemoore pool has run in one direction, dragging a foil through the water to make waves. Mr. Gatzka said engineers are trying now to make it go both ways.”
Also noteworthy: the WSl just announced a new CEO, sports marketing veteran Sophie Goldschmidt, who has spent her career with the Rugby Football Union, NBA (National Basketball Association), and WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). In her first press release she mentioned the KSWaveCo as one of the exciting new things on the horizon. While surfing is much more lifestyle oriented than these traditional sports, the prospect of wave pools having the potential to create the more conventional stadium and broadcast venue seen in other such sports puts surfing at an interesting crossroads. Hopefully the WSl can balance the sporting and lifestyle components to expand its global profile without alienating the core audience.
“In her role as CEO, Goldschmidt will focus on leveraging the once-in-a-generation opportunity to evolve the landscape of competitive surfing around the world with the Kelly Slater Wave Company and its groundbreaking technology, in addition to the inclusion of surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.” -WSL
Wavegarden’s latest and greatest technology now represents the most profitable and proven wave pool currently on the market, with over 1,000 high quality waves per hour and low operational costs, far surpassing any other technology, including Wavegarden’s original lagoon concept. Wavegarden has released a couple new video demonstrations since the debut, including this idyllic gem starring Mateus Herdy getting the wave all to himself.
Several projects in various stages of development have been announced all over the world, including 3 Australian projects in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, 8 in Europe, 3 in the U.S., and one in Chile.
Wavegarden’s previous 2 projects, Snowdonia in Wales, and NLand in Texas, have opened for the 2017 season, and have already seen stellar numbers. NLand’s expert zone is at nearly 100% capacity and is consistently selling out within minutes of becoming available to book online.
Surf Lakes Australia
Back in 2014 a little startup called Surf Lakes joined the growing list of young wavepool inventors with big ideas but not enough funding. A failed indiegogo campaign in 2015 seemed to be their last hurrah. Then, in May of this year, they burst back into the wavepool race with a new round of backing that includes Aussie surf legend Mark Occhilupo. They have yet to build a surfable prototype, but have put together some impressive marketing collateral aimed at raising the money to do just that. The undisclosed location of the development is in Northern Queensland, Australia.
It will be very interesting to see if they can secure the funding for this project, and if so, if their wavepool will deliver on its promise of 2,400 high quality waves per hour. Their design concept is intriguing: a central wave-generating device creates a circular wave that propagates out in all directions, breaking on various reefs lining the lagoon, essentially a large-scale version of tossing a pebble into a puddle.
American Wave Machines
Bruce Macfarland and his team at AWM have been talking about making waves for quite some time now, and in the coming months they’ll get to actually do it. The first full scale installation of their Perfect Swell technology is schedued to be finished by late this year at the Barefoot Ski Ranch in Waco, TX. BSR and owner Stuart Parsons have been known for groundbreaking additions to the original cable wake park, by subsequently adding launch slides the world’s largest lazy river. Here are a few images of the construction progress via instagram.