WavePoolMag’s Top Stories for 2019
Online, certain tricks work better than others to attract pageviews and clickthroughs. Screaming works. Distressing content works. Sexy stuff works. Sometimes all three work, ie “Oh My God Best Bikini Fails Ever!” Because most internet content is framed to please Google, which in turn leads to audience acquisition and conversion, most of what you read in the digital surf sphere is written for web crawlers, not humans.
The machines just measure how much traffic goes through, not the quality of the end destination. So, platforms create content designed for search engines, not for readers. But you know this because you, dear WavePoolMag reader, are smart. You will not be swayed by prompts such as “This kitten found a knife! You won’t believe what happens next.” No. You are not a mere cog in the machine to higher web traffic. You come to WavePoolMag to get the latest wave pool info. Hopefully, you then start planning your wave pool session. Whether your visit ends up with a real-life booking or is just a future-tripping fantasy, part of you goes surfing with each story.
“For your curiosity and stoke” is our motto. We do this for you, not for Search Engine Optimization. And today we present to you at the close of 2019, our most popular stories according to our repeating readers. These are the top stories that informed, entertained and motivated you to get out and surf a wave pool.
Yes, we compared Waco to Lemoore through the eyes of 40-year-old average surfer Ian Glover. At $250-$450 per wave, is Kelly Slater’s wave pool worth it? At $90 per hour is Waco worth it? Which one leaves you feeling surfed out and which one leaves you jonesing for more? In a nutshell, Kelly’s is the Tavarua trip of wave pools while Waco is the everyman’s super-fun beach break on a good day. According to Ian, “Both are good waves. But one is perfect. If I went back to Waco I’d hire the private hour (about $18 per wave) with a group of friends.” In this piece, we spoke with Ian about the frustration and sheer joy of Kelly’s and the rapid-fire stoke of Waco.
As we’ve seen in recent years there is more than one way to artificially generate waves. Compressed air, levers and paddles, giant plungers and, of course, a submerged block pulled along a track, all produce surf. Mix in 10 times the computing data used to launch the Hubble Telescope, and you have capable wave pool technology. Before we kick off on this guide, it’s worth noting that wave pool technology and the actual operating surf park, are two different beasts. A group like American Wave Machines creates the technology, while a separate entity like BSR Surf Resort utilizes that tech to operate a surf park business. The only exception is The Kelly Slater Wave Company (and possibly Surf Lakes) who both created the technology and opened it up (or plan to) for the paying public.
With the algae bloom of wave pool technologies emerging, we need solid metrics to distinguish each new addition. “Sick”, “Super Sick” and “Soooo Sick” work pretty well. But wave pool makers are engineers. They are tied to the empirical and typically shun such nomenclature. However, one surefire distinction is “traveling wave” and “standing wave.” Kelly’s, Waco and the Cove are traveling waves displaying both longitudinal and transverse motions. Simply put, you travel a measurable distance when you surf one. What is a standing wave? The Eisbach and Zambezi rivers are standing waves. You can surf the same wave for hours and not travel any longitudinal distance. Basically, you just stay in the same place. This latest design ups the game for standing wave pools.
Didn’t make the investor or guest list for Surf Lakes or Wavegarden? Not on the CT or invited to Kelly’s Wave? Don’t worry. We live in an era where makers are celebrated and everything from hand-crafted whiskeys to crocheted shoe inserts are available on Etsy. Wouldn’t it be great to see surfers apply some of that creativity and elbow grease to the creation of wave pools? It’s pretty simple really. All you have to do is displace water to create a wave. We’ve all done it in bath tubs, swimming pools and by tossing stones into a pond. And many of us have thought, “wow, I could do this much bigger. I could even build a device to make waves – surfable waves!” But only a handful of us go on to toil for hours, months, years in perfecting a system to create waves for surfing. Are you an Aaron Trevis (Surf Lakes), Greg Webber, Thomas Lochtefeld, Josema Odriozola or Karin Frisch? No. Probably not. So let’s let’s take a look at some creative ways to make wave pools and other alternative surfing options. This article celebrates the ‘can do’ of wave pools. We even provide list of what you’ll need for your own wave pool hack.
The beauty of learning to surf in a wave pool is that you will progress at a steady pace. Hit it like you’d hit the gym and you’ll progress rapidly. For the ocean-dependent beginning surfer things like flat spells, hurricanes, shark scares or any of several other factors can interrupt your frequency of sessions. Graduating from the Bay section of a Wavegarden Cove facility is a huge accomplishment. You’ve learned the basics: paddling, jumping to your feet, and remaining stable on that big foamy. But now that the whitewater is a bit boring and you want more of a thrill you’ll need the right board to take you to the next level. So what board is best in this awkward phase between beginner and intermediate? Any board that doesn’t resemble a giant tongue depressor will help you advance your skills.
When someone says they have the best job in the world, you tend to take their word for it. Working at a wave pool each day? That’s a great job. But what we don’t hear about are long hours (15 hours some days) standing in the Texas heat and humidity while trying to organize a group of surfers amped to shred. At its worst, it sounds like standing in a steam box while trying to herd cats. At its best, it’s, well, sharing the stoke while getting to surf all day. As the manager of BSR Surf Resort Brian Fillmore advanced beyond kook status in just a couple short seasons. While most surfers struggle for years to perfect their game, Fillmore is now laying down advanced rail work and turns that in the past were solely done by either longtime surfers or protégées.
Did river surfing start the whole wave pool movement? In some ways, yes. At least for small spaces. If you haven’t walked through Munich Germany on a nice, summer day it’s really incredible. Tour past the beautiful architecture – rebuilt reconstructions since the city was bombed out in WWII – and you’ll see billboards with the Eisbach River wave promoting everything from Canon cameras to civic pride. A handful of river surfers at the Eisbach redefined our collective perception of what is surfing. This group told the world that surfing was not just for the ocean. The concept that you can surf rivers, opened the door to river wave pools, or standing wave pools.
Hot on the heels of Kalani Robb posting buddy Cheyne Magnusson counting off steps in an empty pool, the surf world salivated at the prospect of a secret new pool. Secret because it wasn’t announced via Instagram and not through the usual main channels, that is the wave developers. Each time Wavegarden inks a deal for a new Cove project, the world hears about it through their press arm. When Surf Lakes, American Wave Machines and Webber solidify a new project, we get YouTube clips and press releases. Not this time. But then, the Palm Springs Surf Club has captured the wave pool world’s attention like few projects before.
Kelly’s famous debut of his pool showed a suited up Mr. Slater surfing a cold, muck-brown pond. Subsequent clips revealed the pond was suitable for board shorts. A wetsuit is mandatory for year-round surfing at Surf Snowdonia in Northern Wales. while NLand, BSR Surf Ranch and Wavegarden all have their chilly days when some type of neoprene is necessary. In the last few years wetsuit makers started using textured interior linings for improved insulation. Today most makers put some type of ‘fluffy’ lining along the core areas of their suits.
This work-in-progress guide delivers all the latest wave pool information as it becomes available. With a simple Google Maps format readers can scroll and locate the nearest wave pool. For travellers a quick zoom in will help discover what area on the globe is hosting the most wave pools. Hint: Today it’s the UK, tomorrow it’s the desert of California.