It’s been a year and a half since surf legend Kelly Slater revealed footage of himself riding a perfect 2.1 metre tube 250km away from the nearest beach in California.
Slater’s Surf Ranch proved surfing the perfect artificial wave was no longer a dream. Online sleuths quickly tracked it down to a former water ski facility and within months, the World Surf League had bought a majority stake in Slater’s company.
Slater’s pool utilises a foil dragged through the water which can generate 15 waves per hour. It’s currently experimenting with dragging it the other way to generate left-handers as well.
By the end of the year, Slater had serious competition. A company called Wavegarden released footage and details of the “Cove”, a facility that it says can generate 1000 waves per hour up to a powerful 2.4 metre barrel. Wavegarden already has facilities in Texas and the UK, but they’ve struggled with breakdowns and offer nothing like what the “Cove” offers.
And if “Cove” does what it says on the box, it will launch in Perth, Western Australia, “by 2018”.
But Australian surf legend Mark Occhilupo is backing another startup in Brisbane, and they’ve given him his own wave.
Surf Lakes, a startup which promised “3600 waves” per hour was possible back in May 2015, says it already has the technology to generate 2400 waves per hour and is building a demo facility at a secret location.
It just released a sneak preview of what its technology is capable of:
Surf Lakes hopes to license the technology around the world to theme parks and resorts and property developers. If all goes to plan, a full-scale recreational surf park will open in Queensland by the end of 2017, complete with eight different waves:
One of them, a barrelling left-hander that will be 2.4 metres face height and run for about 60 metres, will be called “Occy’s Peak”.
The 1999 world champion and former Pipeline Master said being able to design the perfect wave and catch it over and over again “is every surfer’s dream”.
“What’s even more exciting is that it provides fun for the entire family and I am looking forward to bringing mine to the Surf Lake and seeing the kids surf different waves at the same time,” Occy said.
The demo facility will have the same water volume of approximately 20 Olympic swimming pools, Surf Lakes founder and CEO Aaron Trevis said, with the ultimate goal of the concept to make surfing more accessible, especially for those who don’t have access to the ocean or waves.
“99.5 per cent of the world’s population have never surfed, which is why we believe there is a significant opportunity for the Surf Lakes technology,” Trevis said.
“Surfing is a significant part of our culture and we believe Surf Lakes will provide many opportunities for surf schools, elite training or just for leisure, and with surfing now an Olympic sport, we believe it will be beneficial to national teams for training purposes or even the actual competition.”