Upon the completion of the WSL Future Classic event at the Surf Ranch, many celebrated the fact that the first ever WSL sanctioned wave pool event was a success. We saw this coming right from the moment we first saw footage of Kelly Slater’s man-made wave. And we all know that whether most of us like it or not, it is bound to happen – that professional surfing will be running on wave pools to create a level playground for all surfers.
So with all the excitement and hype around the Lemoore wave pool, we all know there will be competitors that will try to top what the Surf Ranch’s waves can do. It is public knowledge that many competitors have joined the wave pool wars, like Wavegarden and American Wave Machines. And while these technologies differ, they all have one main goal and that is to bring the waves into land-locked locations to expand the influence of the surfing culture.
It is not surprising to find out news about new wave pool technologies being explored, researched and experimented on because of the growing demand and support for artificial waves. We have previously talked about a new wave pool technology called Surf Lakes being endorsed by former World Champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, but there was no in-depth information about it.
Now that more info has been made available, I’ve decided to talk about whether this new Surf Lakes wave pool is going to beat Kelly Slater Wave Co.’s wave pool. Wavegarden and American Wave Machine fans, please don’t be mad at me for making Kelly’s wave the benchmark of comparison because in my own personal opinion, Kelly’s wave is so far the best operational wave pool that has proven to work well in a professional competition setting.
So how does the Surf Lakes technology stand up against Kelly’s Wave Co.’s? In a recent interview made by Surfer’s Village with Surf Lakes CEO and founder Aaron Trevis, a few pointers have been made and I am going to talk about each of them in the following paragraphs.
The Surf Lakes mechanism is different in a sense that it uses a concentric wave generator that creates swells from a central source. The company claims it can generate eight breaking waves simultaneously at a given time, four of which are left-hand waves and the other four are right-handers. Now that is quite interesting, Kelly’s wave pool produces one wave at a time, but the intervals are not that long.
Kelly’s wave pool in action
It could be noted however that Kelly’s wave peels off and barrels in such a perfect way that surfers can literally stall within the barrels for a long time, and watching Surf Lake’s prototype footage, it is not as perfect as Kelly’s waves yet.
But the Surf Lakes machine will give the same wave motion as the ocean, with a trough in front of the waves for a realistic surfing experience. Until we get to see Surf Lakes in action, I would give Kelly’s wave one point here.
Surf Lakes Prototype
Surf Lakes has also promised to deliver various types of waves that are adjustable based on the needs of the crowd who will be using it. It appears the company is trying to make the wave accessible to the average surfer and not just professional surfers, which is a good thing considering that Kelly’s wave currently is accessible only to those with invitations, and not even all of the professional surfers on the world tour have been invited.
So I would give the Surf Lakes a point for at least planning to make it accessible to the average surfer who isn’t lucky enough to win Golden Tickets to the Surf Ranch.
But news of Kelly slater’s wave pool being built in Florida can change just that. If Kelly’s wave will become accessible to the public soon, then it can come as the best perfect wave you can access on land.
We have already talked about Olympic surfing possibly using wave pools in the near future. And although Kelly’s Surf Ranch can be perfect for a competition setting with surfers taking turns to surf, it may be counter-intuitive for Olympic training given that surfers are unable to practice simultaneously.
On the other hand, Surf Lakes offers simultaneous waves, so this could be a plus as more surfers can practice at the same time. And if surfing becomes a regular sport in the Olympics, there can be a huge army of new converts to the surfing religion flocking into wave pool facilities to get a shot at the Olympic surfing dream.
This is a draw for both Kelly’s wave and Surf Lakes in this particular aspect.
Kelly’s wave pool at the Surf Ranch has already been tested and proven effective for competitive surfing. It is, however, losing a lot of fan base because of the high exclusivity where only the world’s best are able to access the facility. But then again if the new Kelly Slater wave in Florida will open to the public, it can change the wave pool wars tremendously.
The Surf Lakes technology looks very promising. It offers things that Kelly’s wave pool doesn’t have such as multiple simultaneous waves, but then it has not been proven yet. And until it proves to be a better option, I don’t see any reason why Kelly’s Wave Co. should feel threatened about it, at least at this point in time.
I can’t wait to see how this tech turns out and would love to make a side-by-side comparison after, but for now, it is all but a waiting game.
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