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Wave Pool Year in Review: WPM’s top stories for 2018

What happened this year? Polite answer is “heaps.” The more real answer is “shit tons.” To help keep track of this rapidly expanding universe, we noted (chronologically) some of the major milestones that went down in the wave pool world this year.

But remember, while 2018 is by far the biggest year in wave pool news ever, expect it to be easily trounced in 2019 as more pools open across the world and new technologies come to light. It’s a brave new world. Enjoy….

BSR Surf Resort opens in Waco Texas

The American Wave Machines tech debuted, showing the world their compressed air system produces amazing ramps. The PerfectSwell technology can be adjusted to fire in sequence, producing a variety of waves. BSR’s now famous air section lit up social media, including Seth Moniz’s full flip merely a week into the park’s opening.

Former pro, skating royal and surf industry vet Cheyne Magnusson is working for the park.

“We made that air section just three days ago,” Cheyne explained to STAB Magazine. “We had that wedge already designed, but we wanted somewhere to use all that speed, so we thought ‘let’s build an air section.’ After playing around with the settings for a couple hours, we ended up creating that Cobbles-style ramp. Having that same section to hit every time is incredible. I re-learned how to do a full rotation in like… eight waves. I was like ‘Whoa, I’m skating!’”

The Waco wave pool and the whole BSR facility includes the BSR Surf Ranch, a cable park, cabanas, giant slides, a swim-up bar and lazy river. They charge $60 for a one-hour beginner session and $90 for an expert session. They also offer all-day packages and hourly rentals of the entire wave pool machine.

For more visual goodies and information you can check out the BSR Instagram feed and the BSR Cable Park website.

Media Ban Lifted on Kelly Slater Wave Pool

Matt Warshaw is the author of the Encyclopedia Of Surfing (follow this link because we like Matt and he’s done a lot for the sport) and had the chance to surf Kelly’s wave pool during a “media day” put on by the WSL and the Surf Ranch.

The only catch was that the “media day” required the media not to do any reporting on the pool. In one of those bizarre situations that can only happen in Putin’s Russia or the WSL media tent, everyone signed non-disclosure agreements stating they wouldn’t share what their experience was like. These non-disclosure forms expired so we got to hear one of the greatest minds in surfing give his two cents worth Kelly’s Wave Pool.

“In general I see wavepools as the end of surfing as we’ve known it,” Warshaw speculates. “Surfing won’t die of course, but what it means to surf, and how surfers think of themselves, and how they’re thought of by others, will be changed. The sport, and the people who do it, will become less fringe, less interesting, more mainstream. It was always going to go that way I guess. I’m glad I got to do it fully on the natural.”

We will check in again with Matt this year to get his take on the growing culture of wave pool surfing – the next big thing.

Wave Pool’s First Wall Ride

Professional wakeboarder Nico von Lerchenfeld grabbed a cable and towed through the Surf Snowdonia pond to land some new tricks. In this case, it’s the world’s first wall ride.

The German virtuoso ollied a wave from out the back and then slid off the main wall of the former aluminum mine site to complete the world’s first wall ride in a wave pool.

The concept of executing a wall ride in a wave pool is a new one and illustrates that just about anything can be constructed in a pool to enhance the ride. The only limits are creativity and disregard for self preservation.
But think of where new tricks in a wave pool will take us: floating rail slides, McDonald’s tray standup floating sofa surfing; high-dive acid drops, and more.

Hey wave pools, it’s time to get creative and increase your liability insurance coverage. Excited to see where 2019 takes us…

Quiksilver Holds Young Guns Comp in a Wave Pool

Quiksilver’s innovative Young Guns competition opted for an unsalted final this year as four competitors, Samuel Pupo, Marco Mignot, Jett Schilling and Justin Becret hit Kelly’s surf ranch.

The Kelly Slater Surf Ranch, perhaps somewhat eclipsed by the Waco pool’s stellar ramps, added an air section. And, yes, the dreamy perfection of Kelly’s was transformed to a different kind of dreamy perfection – one suited to innovative above-the-lip surfing.

Each year the Quiksilver Young Guns event dreams up a new innovative format. For years the final ran as an exotic tropical journey, an online clip contest, a boat trip or simply a movie. This year hundreds of under 18 surfers posted their best waves to Instagram hoping for a shot at fame and surfing the WSL Surf Ranch.

Wave Pool CT Event Counts Toward WSL World Title

The WSL’s innovative wave pool contest ran at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch with a controversial new format that more closely resembled a snowboard halfpipe event than the traditional CT man-on-man surfing format.

For the competitors in an event like this, it’s all about shining brightest on a wave that has been an internet superstar. The surfers who dialed in the new system, whether due to having heaps of practice at Kelly’s wave or simply opening their minds to a new format, were the eventual winners.

Typically sports fans don’t like change, and the internet was abuzz with creative expletives denouncing the event format and scoring as “boring.”
Stab Magazine listed the ways the event is not cool in a pre-event article and poked at the subject some more in an interview with former ASP CEO Brodie Carr.

Moving beyond the caustic comments and articles, if the couch quarterbacks could stop and open their minds, they’d see that this new contest format matched Kelly’s waves perfectly.

Because it’s not the ocean and each wave is a blurry mirror image of the wave prior, the format needed to change along with the waves on this tour stop. To keep the surf game going it’s necessary to adapt and mix it up to fit with the surfing medium. Pipe has a different format for reasons unique to the venue.

The Surf Ranch Pro delivered, counting toward the 2018 World title. And we’re excited to see the tweaks and adjustments in the coming year.

Stab High Event Runs at Waco Wave Pool

The first of what we hope will be an annual event (how about a new world “air” tour?), the Stab High contest invited 20 top non-WSL surfers (which is why there was no John John or Filipe) to the BSR Cable Park in Waco.

Entrants were chosen by Stab and Stab readers in an online poll. Part music fest, kegger and social media goldmine, the comp awarded Noa Deane top prize and $25K for his main event win while Ethan Osborne took home $20K for the highest air of the competition.

The format had the finalists surf nine waves. Each got four lefts, four rights and one wave of their choice.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” Noa told STAB. “It’s like no pressure and heaps of pressure at the same time. Yesterday was one of the most fun days of surfing I’ve ever had. Then today’s been rad. It’s so fun to watch. I’d almost rather just drink tins and watch them surf.”

Chippa Wilson also reflected that, despite the chill vibes and beers shared during competition, he felt the competitive fire.

“I haven’t done a contest in five years,” said Chippa Wilson. “Just hanging with all the lads and having a beer between heats has been unreal. This event’s been good. Pretty loose. There’s a bit of pressure but everyone has been landing stuff and having a good time.”

The event ran six hours and included food trucks, music, drinks (lots of em by the look of the podium speeches).

Webber Wave Pool Gets Queensland Site

Artist design for new Tunnel Visions Wave Pool

Greb Webber, shaper, surfer and designer of Webber Wave Pools technology licensed his services to Tunnel Vision Wave Park on the Gold Coast.

According to news from the Tunnel Vision Wave Park, the new facility will deliver up to 500 waves per hour peeling both left and right and hit heights of two meters (six feet).

Length of ride in the new wave pool technology is purported to be 20 seconds. For comparitive measures, Kelly’s Wave averages 40-second rides and the BSR Surf Ranch in Waco clocks in at 9-10 seconds (depending on setting.)

“We have teamed with Webber Wave Pools and Australia’s leading engineering and development firms,” said Tunnel Vision in a statement. “To deliver mind-blowing waves including barrels, open faces and critical sections for off-the-top turns or airs, as well as super fun learn to surf waves for foamie startups.

Tunnel Vision Wave Park is slated to break ground at a location 30-minutes south of Brisbane International Airport and about 50 minutes north of the Gold Coast Airport. Although somewhat vague on the Tunnel Visions Website, there is some online speculation the location will be Logan City.

“You’ve probably heard that the location is a stone’s throw from the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Australia – and you’d be correct,” Tunnel Visions added.

“We are in the process of applying for Development Approval with the local council and because they are a rad bunch of people we’re making sure all of our applications are as tight as last year’s wetsuit.”

Surfer Dies After Contracting Brain-Eating Amoeba

Naegleria fowleri amoeba

Fabrizio Stabile contracted a brain-eating amoeba known as Naegleria fowleri at the BSR Surf Resort and died on September 21 this year. He had surfed the Waco pool a few weeks prior to his death the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the Naegleria fowleri amoeba was to blame.

The amoeba is present in most freshwater above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. While you can drink contaminated water and not get sick, inhaled water allows the microbes to travel up the olfactory nerve system into the brain. Once lodged in the brain the bacteria begins to feed on its surroundings.

The tragic death drew the world’s attention to a rare and random freshwater killer. Since the event BSR Cable Park has been busy installing a new water filtration system. New wave pool makers such as Surf Lakes have now committed to chlorine-treated facilities. Anyone designing a wave pool now must carefully consider filtration systems as well as their wave generation and bathymetry designs.

Wavegarden Debuts ‘Slab’ Technology

Filipe Toledo using Wavegarden's new slab wave pool setting

During some down days at the Quiksilver Pro France Filipe Toledo along with friends, Miguel Pupo and Ian Gouveia tested Wavegarden’s brand spanking new Cove settings.

The new high-performance waves, which include a barrel wave, a slab, and an aerial section, reaffirmed to the touring pros that a day trip from Hossegor down to Pais Vasco Spain is well worth it.

“In recent months our fluid dynamics department has focused on improving the main Reef waves by altering the bathymetry,” said Wavegarden.

Wavegarden stated their Cove technology including the new slab wave pool setting, offers approximately 30 different types of waves for beginners, intermediates and experienced surfers. Waves and settings are chosen by manipulating a single button.

First Waves Roll Out at Surf Lakes

In a social media post, the Australian company Surf Lakes released the first images of waves at their Queensland facility. “The wait is over… here’s a sneak peek at our “5 Wave” surf technology,” the company said. “More to come in the next few days!”

We soon found out that the new facility creates five different waves simultaneously as a central hub wave-maker (often referred to as a plunger or giant donut) pushes out swell in 360 degrees. The waves then fan out across five different breaks, a slab, a beachie, Occy’s Peak, a point and a beginner break.

As the project moves forward Surf Lakes reiterated that this is a private demonstration facility and surfing will be strictly limited to staff, shareholders, potential licensees and via the director’s invitation.

“Our long-term vision is to build a Surf Lake in every major city in the world,” said CEO Aaron Trevis.

Europe’s First Indoor Wave Pool for Surfing to Open in The Hague

Indoor wave pool, The Hague

The SurfPoel indoor wave pool will offer 3-to-4-foot rights and lefts in The Hague, Netherlands. Europe’s first indoor wave pool for surfing follows a “hull” wave generating design similar to Wavegarden’s Lagoon tech and the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch. The new facility will pump out 149 per hour in heated water.

The pool itself will be 72m long (230 feet) and 18m (60 feet) in width with a max depth of 2,5m (8 feet). The building housing the pool is a massive 2400 square meters (7,800 square feet) and will use shipping containers and a timber beach in construction. As a result, developers boast that this pool is the only one that requires no digging and is fully transportable.

“When searching for a suitable location for the SurfPoel,” said Jeroen den Otter, managing director at 24/7Waves, “there were a number of requirements on the list: sufficient surface area, the area around The Hague, good accessibility for both public transport and cars and a dynamic, entrepreneurial environment. All these elements came together in the former Reparco hall at the Saturnusstraat on the Binckhorst in The Hague.”

The pool could be the first surf-specific wave pool to open in 2019.

Surf Snowdonia becomes Snowdonia Adventure Parc

The Surf Snowdonia hotel approval signals options in upcoming wave pool business models as local authorities approved plans for a new 100-plus room hotel at Surf Snowdonia Adventure Parc.

After some resistance, the wave pool got the nod from the Conwy Council planning committee. Those opposed to the four-story hotel and activity center said the development would be too ‘urban’ in a rural area.

The development centres around the world’s first surf-specific public wave pool using the Wavegarden Lagoon technology.

Shred Sticks and Glow Sticks: Wavegarden Night Surf Tech Debuts

One promise of the coming wave pool boom is how it will open up surfing for, you know, vampires… or at least partying European pros. While a goth surfing subculture is still a ways off, there are those among us ready to jump into the deep-end waving glowsticks.

The minds at Wavegarden are at the forefront of night session developments. The artificial wave producers did further testing of their night lighting system during a summer heatwave. They invited European pros and partiers to their test facility deep in the Basque Country.

Wavegarden is further refining their offerings to prospective park operators and will no doubt be a leader of lighting night time sessions. Operators like this concept as they will be able to be open longer, and sell more aper-surf beers.

Surf Lakes Announces 10 ‘Shovel Ready’ Wave Pool Projects

World Map with Surf Lakes sites

Want to invest? For a cool $100K AU you can bro-out with Occy and session the Yeppoon test facility this February.

Australian wave pool company Surf Lakes asserted their investment value n a press statement citing new projects and plans. The company emphasised that the agreements aren’t “pie in the sky” projects either.

“Interest has risen dramatically and we are receiving enquiries every day from new potential licensees,” the company said. “In total over 250 inquiries from over 25 countries.”

“We have a process to filter out the ones that are the most ‘shovel ready’ and this has uncovered around 10 solid projects in locations including, Arizona, California, Brazil, Spain, UK, Middle East and two in Australia. To date we have signed 3 HOAs and have two more that we expect to sign in December/Jan.”

The first commercial 5 Waves facility will break ground early 2019 and open soon after.

“We can possibly achieve this in the first half of 2019,” said Trevis. “There are quite a number of groups who wish to be the first including in Arizona, California, Brazil, Spain, UK and the Middle East.”

Wavegarden Confirms Projects Breaking Ground This Year

london wave pool plan

The first public Wavegarden Cove wave pools are currently under construction on opposite sides of the globe. Ground has broken in both Melbourne and Bristol and the company has plans for 16 additional locations. You’re stoked if you live near Coachella, Lacanau, Sao Paulo, Santiago and many other international cities.

It’s a great time to delve a little deeper into this technology born from deep in the Basque Country.

Wavegarden Cove facilities are planned for: Coachella, CaliforniaVirginia Beach, USAEdinburgh, ScotlandBristol, EnglandLondon, EnglandSevran (Paris), FranceLacanau, FranceValais, SwitzerlandBarcelona, SpainMadrid, SpainMalaga, SpainSao Paulo, BrazilGaropaba, BrazilMelbourne, AustraliaSydney, AustraliaPerth, AustraliaSeoul, South KoreaSouth Florida, USASantiago, Chile


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