The is no denying that good waves pools are no longer a thing of the future.
Over the latest couple of years, we have seen the evolution of wave pools explode. It evolved from something no one truly wanted to surf, into high-quality surf spots with long and barreling waves.
History of the Wave Pool
The first real wave pool was (apparently) built in Budapest. It appeared in James A. Fitzpatrick’s Traveltalks about the city in 1938, but it only produced very small waves and was meant as a tourist attraction. In the following years, Wave pools have emerged in many places and in many forms. But none were built for surfing, and quite frankly, it seemed as if no one cared besides surfers.
But as the surfing community grew, the economic, social and cultural potential of a surfable wave pool grew proportionally.
I remember the first time I ever dreamt about a real wave pool. At that time Ocean Dome Madd in Japan and the Typhoon lagune in Florida had artificial waves, but they did not have quality waves. The technology behind a quality wave simply seemed like rocket science. When I spoke of the idea, people even laughed and asked: ” what´s next a weather machine?“
But then entrepreneurs and engineers around the world started giving the idea the deserved attention. Since no one had ever succeeded to develop a surfable wave, everybody knew it was hard, but on the other hand, we all knew it would only be a matter of time before somebody cracked the code.
It wasn’t until Basque engineer Josema Odriozola and German sports economist Karin Frisch founded Wavegarden that things started getting serious. Between 2005 – 2007 they design prototypes, in 2008-2009 they develop an actual size wave pool, and voila, in 2010 Wavegarden receives worldwide attention when footage of pro surfers riding a wave pool at a Wavegarden test facility.
In 2012 Wavegarden builds yet another prototype, where two waves break along a pier. The design is brilliant. The waves are bigger and longer than the first prototype, and when the waves finish, another set of waves immediately breaks in the opposite direction. All of the sudden, the idea of a wave pool generating truly good waves doesn’t seem so far off.
In 2015 Surf Snowdonia opens in the village of Dolgarrog in the Conwy Valley, in North Wales. It is a landmark in surfing history.
In its first full year of operation, Surf Snowdonia welcomes 150,000 visitors, produces 30,000 waves, and hosts the international surf event Red Bull Unleashed.
The wave is shoulder to head high, but even more impressive than the wave itself was the actual realization of the once impossible.
In the 2016 engineer and a surfer, Doug Coors opens Nland Surf park in Austin Texas in collaboration with Wavegarden. The facility produces over a million waves each year and offers good waves. Perhaps not epic waves, but still a major upgrade. Before there were no waves in Texas, and now you can rip all day long.
The fact that more and more artificial waves started seeing the light of day, divided the surfing community. Some surfers were outraged, claiming that the waves were weak. Some even claimed it had nothing to do with surfing. Others were holding their breaths, in the hopes of one day seeing a wave pool with a big and powerful barrel.
At the time, many surfers were still skeptical of the Wave quality. It just didn’t didn’t seem like the industry was on the verge of making a truly epic wave. Until Kelly Slater released a video that took the world by storm.
Kelly Slater Wave Company
On December 18th, 2015 Kelly Slater Wave company leaked a video on Vimeo. It shows Kelly riding (what appears to be) the first wave, in a wave pool made by Kelly Slater Wave Company. Needless to say, it took the world by storm. In the video, Kelly rips perfect, long and hollow waves.
The sequence ends with Kelly stating: “This is the best man made wave ever made, for sure, no doubt about it”.
Since then, the internet has exploded with clips of the best surfers in the world, riding waves at Kellys test facility. He has even held a contest called Future Classic, but the question still remains: When and where can we try the wave pool? Whats in store?
On May 24th, 2016 World Surf League announced that its parent company, WSL Holdings, acquired a majority stake in the Kelly Slater Wave Company. They said, “The WSL and the KSWC envision the build-out of a global network of WSL-branded high-performance training centers utilizing this wave technology”. World Surf League also announced: “No firm plans have been made for the inclusion of a man-made wave-based competition. We will be evaluating all the possibilities in the coming months with the Commissioners’ Office and the WSL athletes.”
We still do not know what the future brings, but it seems likely, that we will see high-quality wave pools all around the world soon. Now even the Worlds Surf League are competing at The Surf Ranch.
Some surfers are still very critical, but I personally think it’s the best thing that ever happened.
I grew up surfing the North Sea, constantly battling strong currents and windblown swell. And not to mention the cold waters in wintertime. We had to jump on airplanes and travel around the world just to get a good wave. All surfers know the depressing feeling of not having waves on offer.
But don’t get me wrong. I love traveling, I love the adventure of finding the perfect wave, I love (most of the time) the different conditions mother nature hands us each session. Its all part of “surfing”, I get it. But if I could surf good waves every day my life would be perfect. I can hardly even comprehend the idea.
I simply cannot see how surfing can be a bad thing, even it means that the wave is artificial and stationary. Yes, it may remove some of the romantic aspects of the things that surround surfing, such as the infamous search for waves and adventure, but in return, a quality wave pool gives so much in return- actual surfing.
I truly believe that quality wave pools make the world a better place. If wave pools are built in areas with no waves, I imagine the crime and suicide rates will fall drastically in those areas. I know I would feel a lot happier. If enough of these things are build around the globe, I sincerely believe it could be the end of all wars. Humans would simply have no rage. Let build some more of these things, and save the world.
What are your thoughts on Wavepools? Let us know in the comment section below.