How the Kelly Slater Wave Pool Works

Kelly Slater Wave Company

Kelly’s design is the most famous of the wave pools. The prototype transformed an abandoned waterski park in Lemoore California into the upscale Surf Ranch, the darling of the WSL and company team-building power perk for the Fortune 500 surf set. The system is a simple plow design, like Wavegarden’s Lagoon and Surf Poel in The Hague. A specially designed submerged foil is pulled down a straight track at high (or low) velocity, displacing water to create a wave that breaks along the wave pool’s specially designed bathymetry. Adjustments to the large, noisy machine temper the speed of the plow affecting the wave’s steepness and size. Unlike the Wavegarden Lagoon, Kelly’s wave plow only generates a rideable swell on one side of the track. But it is bi-directional, going in one direction to create lefts and the other direction to create rights.

Kelly Slater at the Surf Ranch

The pool is 700 meters long by 150 meters wide (2,200 feet by 500 feet) with the ride at Kelly’s, clocking in at 45 seconds – the longest of any of the world’s wave pools to date. A wave is generated about every two minutes and ranges in size from 3-to-6-feet. It takes 3-4 minutes for the water to calm between waves.

The Kelly Slater Wave Company has suffered setbacks in Florida, Coolum Australia, and elsewhere as they struggle to make the system cost-effective for the work-a-day surfer while getting approval from local authorities. Plans to expand elsewhere in Australia and in Texas, as well as Japan, are hot with speculation as the world anticipates the first public dream wave. A development for a Kelly Slater Wave Co tank in the desert east of Los Angeles is moving forward rapidly.

The WavePoolMag Technology Guide is a working document detailing the latest technology in wave production. Much like the surf park space itself, this page is constantly evolving and growing. Check out the full category on WavePoolMag. You can also find all the world’s wave pool projects at the WavePoolMag Surf Planner

Included in the WavePoolMag guide is technology from: Kelly Slater Wave Co., Endless Surf, Surf Loch, Wavegarden Cove, Wavegarden Lagoon, PerfectSwell, Murphys Waves, Barr+Wray, Xing Feng, Olas, SwellSpot, Surfwrld, Waveprizm, SwellMFG, OkahinaWave, Webber Wave Pools, WaveSEG, Surf Lakes, Surf Poel