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With several projects and proof-of-concept, here’s why SurfLoch’s time is now

SurfLoch has joined the A-Listers American Wave Machines, Wavegarden Cove, Kelly Slater Wave Company and Surf Lakes in proof-of-concept wave pools for surfing. But SurfLoch has really been there all along.

Tom Lochtefeld knows the water-pushing game better than most. He cofounded Raging Waters in the eighties then invented and patented the sheet-wave standard of the day, the FlowRider in 1990. The first human-made standing wave tube, the FlowBarrel followed a couple of years later.

Tom’s stoke-centric brand of engineering is punctuated with more than 100 patents and holds many trademarks including FlowRider, FlowBarrel, MasterBlaster, Uphill Water Coaster, Surf Boat, FlyingReef, and now the SurfLoch wave pool.

It’s a fair time to ask, what does the waterpark made famous in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure have to do with surfing?

kids at surf loch wave pool palm springs
SurfLoch’s system in place at the Palm Springs Surf Club during the testing phase. Image by SurfLoch

Five years ago, before Kelly changed the game with the world’s first peek of Lemoore and before Wavegarden ditched their plow design for the Cove, SurfLoch was the Alpha. With projects designed for Rotterdam and Bristol (yes, The Wave entertained the technology shortly) it looked like by 2020 we would all be surfing a SurfLoch system.

But the path from artist rendering to the first set is wrought with hazards. From tanking global economies to schizophrenic planning commissions, it’s a tough road. With years of water park development under his belt, Mr. Lochtefeld must have grown a thick skin in the process. Recent wins for his wave pool developments in Sydney and the south of Spain have heralded the arrival of his SurfPool design.

The Sydney development at the Wisemans Ferry Retreat and Golf Club will be a 13,000+ square meter project complete with Tom’s design.

SurfLoch early testing at Palm Springs Surf Club. Image by Sean McCoy.

The article said the site, an hour northwest of Sydney, will be exclusive to retreat guests and will include a beach and deck area. A central wave pool feature will use filtered water from the Hawkesbury River.

And in Costa del Sol, Lochtefeld sees the perfect place to re-launch his Wave House concept. “A shopping resort with this vision, scale and ambition is the ultimate place to launch Wave House 2.0 in Europe. Powered by our Surf Loch Wave Systems, Wave House offers a taste of the surfing lifestyle…”

Last week the world discovered Tom’s creation would power the much-anticipated waves at the Palm Springs Surf Club. The development by Cheyne Magnusson and Kalani Robb retrofits an existing wave pool within the former Wet ’n’ Wild waterpark.

“I’m excited to share with the world the result of 30 years of research and development and debut our innovative wave-making technology,” said Tom. “Working with Cheyne and the test site at Palm Springs Surf Club, we’re really just getting started with the options for wave variety, bringing to life what we’ve been testing behind closed doors with custom solutions.”

SurfLoch’s design for a Rotterdam project that disappeared. Circa 2014 SurfLoch looked to be the definitive technology in the coming years.

Former pro and reality TV star Magnusson filled the world’s first wave pool “surf manager” job role in Waco. He worked like a chemist, prescribing different waves for guests and working through the lumps that come with a first-ever business model in anything. By programming the waves on-site at BSR, he also became the world’s favorite wave DJ. He’s smitten with SurfLoch.

“I’ve used other pneumatic technologies out there and if you liken their variety to playing different notes on a keyboard, Tom’s technology is like playing a theatre organ,” said Cheyne. “I’m still discovering new combinations and solutions. I want to be able to control waves so anyone who comes to PSSC – whether learning to surf, an average guy getting barrelled, or a professional challenging their master skillset – can session. I never thought I’d be able to do all three of those in this test phase. We’re created slabbing barrels in tests to show investors what’s possible. Imagine what we’ll be able to do at full-scale.”

Over the coming weeks, the proof-of-concept project at Palm Springs Surf Club will show off the technology’s potential and help secure funding for a SurfPool twice the size of the current one. Since the technology can create waves over traditional flat-bottom pools we could see the cobwebbed waterparks of the ‘80s suddenly transformed into legit surf spots.

Tradeshow explanation from back in the day (2014). The system in Palm Springs six years later is remarkably similar.

So how does SurfLoch work?

The SurfLoch design works by using air pressure, or pneumatics, within custom-designed concrete chambers. An opening at the bottom of each chamber allows the wave energy pulse to be released into open water independently of each other. This action displaces water to create a swell. The controlled variations of the independent pulses can generate an infinite variety and combination of wave swells.

Unlike a wave plow design, if parts in one chamber break they can be easily replaced. For the pocket-protector set, none of the moving parts are underwater which is said to increase “performance reliability” of a component. SurfLoch adds that the system’s wave dampening and chop control ensure more surf-able conditions throughout the day.

“When people ask what do I do, I usually say that I am a surfer-turned inventor. The word ‘invention’ is derived from the Latin in-venire: coming upon, not creating. In other words, I just came upon things that are meant to be – just like any adventurous surfer who embarks upon the search. And my search has truly been amazing.”


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