The next big thing in wave pools: Surf Lakes’ hub system
With the surf world’s diminished attention spans lingering just a few moments on the latest morsel of digital wave pool candy (until the next big thing comes along of course), we thought now is a good time to explore what is to be the next big thing in wave pools.
While BSR Surf Resort, Kelly’s Wave, the Wavegarden Cove others have had their moment in the sun, let us now turn our attention to some serious game-changing tech from Surf Lakes Australia.
Operating from a central hub that spits out sets 360 degrees to all directions, the new tech sends out sets of varying sizes to waiting reefs, points and bays built within a man-made lake. Visualize a stone dropping in a pond with waves radiating outward.
Almost everything you wanted to know about this pioneering concentric wave generator technology from Surf Lakes can be found in the below interview with CEO and founder Aaron Trevis as he shares with us what could be the next big thing in wave pools.
What type of technology does Surf Lakes use? It looks very different from KS Wave Co. and Wavegarden.
We are employing a concentric wave generator, creating large swells from a central source. The mechanism is large but quite efficient and it allows us to create 8 breaks at the same time (4 rights and 4 lefts). Key benefit is the orbital motion in the wave, giving the same motion as the ocean, with a trough in front of the waves. This will give a realistic surfing experience. It also allows us to create sets of waves, and we can scale for larger waves nearer to the source, whilst having smaller waves further away. At this stage the design peak size is up to 2.4m, and we are exploring the possibility of even larger waves in future. With the system we are developing, it looks like it can be done in a cost effective manner, but we are focused on the first stage for now and need to prove the waves before jumping ahead.
Tell us about the running prototype and the creation of “Occy’s Peak.”
The demo site will have full scale waves and create 8 breaks, like the future commercial models. The lake size is a bit shorter to save cost, but will work very well anyway. We have worked with Occy to shape the ideal wave and his input has been important to get a wave that should be challenging but accessible for intermediate to experienced surfers. Our team was being conservative with reef placement at first, as it has been seen before that full scale wave pool models did not retain the wave shape and power when scaling up. Ours seemed to have the opposite problem in that the CFD model of Occy’s Peak looked more like Occy’s Slab at first, so we tuned it back to a reasonable shape. Great problem to have. The other breaks vary from a more gentle beachbreak, to a wedge off the wall and a heavy barrel. Looking forward to the first surf.
Can you explain how it will produce 2,400 surf-able waves per hour. Is this the next big thing in wave pools?
We have 8 breaks, so when we run 6 waves per set, this gives 48 rides per set. Running 50 sets per hour gives 2400 rides, plus learner breaks and shore breaks. The demo will not be running sets every minute, but we can add power later to increase the frequency of sets. Operators who run our Surf Parks can dial up a range of productivity options to suit the crowd, as well as run swell sizes to match the customer needs. For example, If they have a lake full of primary school children, there is no point running 8 foot barrels, so can wind down the size, which will actually increase the productivity even further.
Will the park be in a man-made lake, like NLand and Surf Snowdonia?
Mostly, yes. The simplest option is to create a custom lake and shape it to the customer needs. We have numerous discussions ongoing and it is fascinating to see the diversity of thought, when operators realise that the lake can be almost any shape. We have one prospective client developing a mountain resort and they want to fit the lake into the natural contours of a large “saddle” on a mountain ridge. This will be amazing to see waves rolling on a mountain top with majestic views down the valley. Another client is considering fitting us into an open ocean bay, which can be done as well. This is another level of engineering, but the result could be perfect waves into a natural bay, which is normally flat. Another architect wants a similar scenario for a large freshwater lake in North America.
Where do you plan to build Surf Lakes destinations and when?
We hope to launch 1 or 2 commercial sites in 2018 and ramp up from there. We are working with clients to understand who will be first, so at this stage there are a few sites who have pre-approval and can move fast, so we will know by early 2018 which ones will be first. We also recognise that projects find a way of taking longer, so we will work hard towards first sites in 2018, but cannot guarantee that yet.
How do you see the average surfer using Surf Lakes? Will it replace going to the gym in the morning? Relieve stress after work?
At the moment, the average surfer has limited time slots so has to juggle a surf according to daylight and natural surf conditions. We will create ideal conditions for all levels of surfers, such that they can access waves according to their schedule, not the other way around. Dawn patrol surf before work, or quick work-out with 10 barrels on the way home from work, or bring the family on any night for dinner and waves. Even though the weekends will be full, the commercial lakes will cater for 240 surfers at a time, getting 10 rides per hour, so it gives the best chance of having windows available to book a wave. The current commercial surf parks are a success, but it is not easy to book in a wave. Hopefully the Surf Lakes facilities will allow customers more options, simply because there are more waves available. We want to live up to our motto “Everyone gets a break”
Olympic training gets very interesting as surfers can have 8 different waves to practice every possible option, from rolling walls to slabs, so there is a lifetime of variety and improvement. Even middle-aged guys like me will get the skills back to re-live the days of old..maybe. What I am most excited about is creating the Olympic dream for countries that do not even surf yet. This will be an incredible story to watch as a new generation develop skills in conditions that closely resemble the shape, variety and power of the ocean. Then we move on to the bigger wave models…but that can come later. For now, we have to prove ourselves and get Occy in a barrel. We do not want to keep him waiting.
Stay updated on Surf Lakes here on Wave Pool Magazine or on their homepage.
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