Options to the current crop of wave pool technologies

The big names in wave pools technology at the moment are Wavegarden, American Wave Machines Kelly Slater Wave Co. and Surf Lakes. All have working pools with heaps of sessions logged and social clips of surfers going at it. We are stoked. We are having a blast.

Now here’s the proverbial Baby Ruth (see video at bottom) in the “we’re at the pinnacle of wave pool technology” collective perception – There is probably something heaps better on the horizon. And, well, we just don’t know about it yet.

Some designs have lasting properties that hold value for long periods of time. Electric fans work well. They serve their purpose and have changed little. But the thing about inventions is that there’s usually something better that comes along. How many of you are frothing to get this year’s Blackberry or Palm Pilot?

These next few years will be very, very interesting as we see if the Cove, KSWC, AMW and Surf Lakes become the workhorses of the wave pool world or the Betamax.

While nothing has dawned to spook the big wave pool makers of today, there’s a lot of activity going on in small tanks across the world. Some are off their rocker, coaxing unicorns to walk across elaborate gearing systems. Others are just plain hustlers. Yet some are Einsteinian in their grasp of how to build a better machine. It’s just a matter of time and funding before they deliver and the lid is blown off this whole wonderful, amazing wave pool world.

We took a tour of some smaller companies and the people who have yet to break out their product at full-scale. True, these people could be eccentrics not playing with a full deck. Or, they might just be the geniuses we need to produce the next big thing in wave pools.

palm springs wave pool
Cheyne Magnusson and friends will transform the Wet ‘n’ Wild water park in Palm Springs

Cheyne Magnusson

Enigmatic fire-haired stepchild of American Wave Machines took his wave-making knowledge next level when he invested in a past-its-prime water park in Palm Springs. While Cheyne knows the American Wave Machines tech inside and out, it’s speculated he’ll be using a technology of his own invention. But we also found a company that says it can do what Cheyne is doing (see below).

Image from the SwellMFG test tank


Like the others, Swell MFG is secretive about their tech but volunteered that the system, when combined with their software make a “surf playlist” possible.

The company says their tech can work with nearly any size facility, even small ones. Expansion to a larger sized facility is made possible with the addition of modules. They also can drop their tech into existing swimmer-specific facilities to upgrade wave pools for surfing.

Water drop and air blower systems are found in most existing wave pools,” says Swell MFG. “We can drop our system right in front of, or remove (current systems), updating existing wave pools and bringing them up-to-date with high volume waves and reduced operational cost.”
Should the company’s tech be as affordable and efficient as they say, the next wave pool boom could be in the retrofitting of pools already in existence.


WavePrism says they have cracked the energy efficiency code and will be producing the world’s most powerful wave machines. Not only that, they say they can produce the 900 waves per hour using no moving parts and 80% less energy. The system also offers full tide range capability and a rapid calming system for between waves.

To illustrate their system they out Wavegarden’s Cove technology in a video and prove (admittedly through animation, which basically anyone can do) that their system is more energy-efficient and easily maintained. Hurdles tackled in the above video include wave height and energy efficiency.

Photo courtesy Okahina

Okahina Wave

This system is not a wave pool, but a floating system deployed in lakes, bays and any calm body of water. Based on a spinning motor that directs waves outward along a spiral reef foundation, the system claims 30-second rides are possible. Max setting produces waves of 6-feet-high and a pier allows spectators to get close to the action.

WavePoolMag profiled the company and its tech in a lengthy feature recently. News posted to LinkedIn drew dismissive comments from Murphy’s Waves as Okahina Wave founder Laurent Héquily staunchly defended his system.

SwellSpot test tank


We profiled SwellSpot last month and if the company can do what they say they can, it will revolutionize the commercial surfing wave, pool model. Their design provides an “in-theater” experience while delivering up to 300 swells per hour. The company said waves are computer controlled through sophisticated software with size, shape, frequency and direction all adjusted at the push of a button.

“Waves are produced by a mechanical modular system that uses hydraulic motor power to mimic the velocity profile and circular particle motion of ocean surf. You may have 10 similar waves, but each with some variation. Waves can be as frequent as once every 12 seconds. Wave reefs vary from 3 feet to 6 feet in height. Multiple breaks are created on the same wave (through reefs and bathymetry) in order to increase the number of surfers in the surf lake at any one time.”

Swell spot says that at full capacity, surfers can expect to wait at most five minutes between rides.

Stay tuned as more information about these wave pool designs becomes available as the season wears on.

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