Engineer Clement Ginestet details the Endless Surf system
Clement Ginestet is a product engineer at Endless Surf. In this feature he walks us through this new technology explaining how it works, what it can do and what surf sessions will look like. To simplify, Clement likens the system’s wave-making chambers to keys on a piano able to produce both rhythm and melody at the same time, meaning the machine can send out different types of waves throughout the pool during the same session. But what piqued our interest most is that the surf here could very well resemble your local break, with surfers of all skill levels sharing the same session on different parts of the break. The only difference here is that riders are stroking into waves pre-ordered off a menu.
First, a bit about you Clement. What is your background in wave-making?
Growing up in France and frequenting the Southwestern coast, I have always had a passion for surfing and waves. I decided to study Mechanical Engineering at university with a minor in Mechatronics (basically the study of how every type of mechanics can be interwoven together like mechanical engineering and computer science for example). When it came time for me to find an internship, I really wanted to merge my skills with my passions and not take the typical engineering route like aerospace, electrical, or other disciplines. No disrespect to those important areas, but I thought to myself “let’s just have fun and try to make waves.” So, that’s what I did…
I got an internship at American Wave Machines and ended up being hired full-time to work closely on PerfectSwell. I wore many hats in all areas of the surf pool development process, everything from engineering and product development to sales and installation. This really set the stage for my future in wave-making and I’m very grateful for my experience. After eight years at AWM, I joined the team at WhiteWater a year and a half ago to develop Endless Surf as we launch this new and robust technology and I’m very excited about what we’ve created.
In basic terms, how does Endless Surf work?
Endless Surf is a pneumatic wave pool system, which uses chamber pressurization with high-powered fans to mimic how swell in the ocean is formed (wind and atmospheric pressure). In sum, each chamber ultimately produces one small piece of the wave and our back-end operations software, Wave Doctor, pieces together these chambers to create an endless variety of waves.
A major element of Endless Surf is the heart-shaped design. With this, we have been able to minimize our footprint size and offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to operating the pool. The pool is divided into three zones on each side (6 total) with an expert, intermediate, and beginner section. You could run the pool at full power (using all 6 zones), half power (3 zones), or even make one long wave from end-to-end for a competition or something like that. Overall, our pneumatic system is very reliable mechanically speaking and has a great amount of flexibility when it comes to wave production and operation.
What were some of the challenges in creating the Endless Surf design?
Some of the challenges in creating the Endless Surf design came from evolving our technology to address the new parameters that surf parks are focusing their success on. In the early days of wave-making, people were focused on creating that one perfect six-foot barreling wave. Now, there has been more emphasis on improving upon aspects like wave frequency, total cost of ownership, currents, and operational flexibility, just to name a few. The biggest challenge was figuring out how we could fit all of these new requirements in one pool and stand out from competitors.
What types of waves can you create in an Endless Surf pool?
Really, you can create any type of wave you want in an Endless Surf pool because of the ability to sequence the chambers however you like. It’s kind of like a piano, with the keys being the various chambers that can be played to create your own tune or custom wave. For everyday operations, Endless Surf will come with pre-programmed waves which will be wave types like a-frames, slabs, slow-rollers, air-sections, and many others that can be adjusted up to seven feet in height. Truly, there is going to be a wave for everyone and that is something I am really excited about. With the skill-level zones and capabilities of wave programming, I think any surfer will be able to ride their dream wave.
Your system is unique in that there is no reset time between waves. How do you achieve this?
Wave frequency will be high in an Endless Surf pool because of a few key features in our design. The pool shape and bathymetry of the bottom helps mainly by managing pesky currents that would make the pool choppy and unsafe. How we create waves also plays a major role in this, as we have developed a wave-dampening system that will stop residual energy from escaping the chambers after a wave is produced. All in all, there is a mix of features that make this possible and we’ve found a way to minimize unwanted water movement and maximize the safe flow of water through the pool to keep the waves pumping, much like a heart pumps blood through the body.
Also, we’ve heard you can send different types of waves throughout the pool in the same session. Tell us about the variety of waves.
With the special sequencing of our pneumatic chamber piano keys, you could play a baseline with your left hand while playing a melody with your right per se. In other words, yes, you could in fact send out a head-high barrel on the left side while sending out a smaller slow-rolling wave for beginners on the right. In addition, the various zones allow for surfers of differing skill-levels to all be in the pool for the same session, in their respective zones. As the expert wave finishes, the excess energy will be used to turn the shoulder of this wave into a slow-rolling intermediate wave with an open face for carving. Also, the whitewash of this wave will be reformed to create a beginner wave. On top of it all, and often an overlooked aspect of the pool’s flexibility, is the ability to turn half of the pool off and simply run one side if capacity is low.
And how do the currents play a role in this function?
Ultimately, when there is a high volume of water moving within a confined space there will be induced currents and backwash that will affect wave quality. Even the ocean on a powerful swell will have unsafe currents and wonky waves created from backwash. The fact of the matter is that currents cannot be eliminated, but they can be managed if they are well understood. Once again, our pool shape, unique pneumatic features, bathymetry, etc. all play a role in diminishing unsafe currents and improving wave quality. We have been able to create safe and manageable currents throughout the pool that allow for clean waves to break through the zones and offer paddling channels for surfers to get back to the peak quickly.
When will we get to surf one?
We have some incredible projects in the works, and we are excited to announce more when the time is right. What we will say, is that surfing in an Endless Surf pool will become a reality sooner than you may think.