Symbol for duality, balance and world harmony is, like, totally shred-able

An oft-overlooked component in the wave pool game is creativity. We celebrate the terrestrial engineers who get the job done, players like Tom Lochtefeld, Aaron Trevis, Josema and Karin, Bruce McFarland and others. But it’s the sketches from the fringe visionaries – those mad humans eating stardust for breakfast – that plant the seeds for the machine-made waves we will surf tomorrow.

Artists like Phil Roberts showed us what was possible nearly 30 years ago with his Mad-magazine inspired wave pool designs. More recently the renderings and mock-ups from cosmic tripper James Billing have allowed us to open up to the “what if” possibilities.

Divining tomorrow’s surfing platforms through his work with Greg Webber and Surf Lakes, James has developed a knack for tethering ethereal surf dreams to life here on earth. He is a unicorn rancher of sorts, showing us designs that seem beyond possible today, but that could very well be the next big thing in surfing. We caught up with him to get the backstory to his latest creation, the Yin Yang wave pool design.

What gave you the idea for this?
One evening while on my reflecting upon the current state of the world and all of the crazy events that are taking place I was mind surfing and imagining how wave pools could be made better…it’s a symbol for duality, balance and a visual understanding that all things exist only by means of contrast. Everything goes together. The good and the bad, dark and light and so does the peak and trough of a wave!

Other than symbolic meaning, I imagined how stunning a structure such as this would look like from a passing plane (or even Google maps) turning heads and creating a talking point.

It looks to satisfy both advanced surfers and beginners – was this part of what you had in mind?
Yeah. The idea being that the more advanced wave starts along a narrow channel with a steeper gradient to the reef contour which would taper off into a more mellow and spread out area as the wave refracts into the lagoon area. Then the waves would eventually meet the artificial beaches at either end and either side of the pool Yin Yang.

The wave on each side of the generator would be able to wrap around the contour of the walls – a bit like Urbnsurf, however, the fact that it is a circular wall will create a more “concave” energy flow creating a more wedgy wave simply by the wave energy being forced to bend back and refract on itself as it flows along. As each wave propagates beyond the “islands” the wave is allowed to enter a less confined space and thus the wave will slowly dissipate its energy into the wide lagoon to which the learn-to-surf lessons can take place.

four coves in circle
Other work by Billing includes this fantasy island surf park made from four Wavegarden Coves placed next to eachother to form a circle.

On a scale of 1-to-5 rating compared to other James Billing creative endeavors, like the four-coves-in-one-on-a-deserted-island, how close is this one to actually being able to work?

This is just an initial concept, no prototypes and or scale models have been produced. The major factor would be which wave generating tech would be used. Ideally, it would be an array of smaller individual piston-driven cells that can customize the angle and size of each wave depending upon the order in which they are triggered.

Aside from the wave tech, the rest of the build and concept would be relatively straight forward. The reef bathymetry design would be another area for trial and error, but nothing is impossible if you ask me!

Besides massive funding, what’s holding this design back?
Hmmm?… Ignoring the impending global recession and international travel restrictions?…NOTHING! In the right hands, this concept could be easily marketed and pushed forward as a truly unique and visually engaging modern marvel. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential overall experience! Obviously, surfing would be the big drawcard but in fact, the surrounding infrastructure and other usages of such a design would be where I see a great R.O.I.!

Anything else you want to add about this wave?
Has anybody got Elon Musk’s number? Does he surf? Haha! Personally, I think that all of the famous design ideas, whether it be architectural, engineering or technology serves a greater purpose than what they are initially designed for. They inspire us and allow our minds to escape beyond the daily grind. Even if it is just purely an aesthetic design feature or unique function – people from all walks of life are inevitably drawn to beautiful things.

I would love to be able to help other Wave Pool companies across the world to incorporate this ethos and fundamental strategy when designing new pools. There is literally an endless stream of lessons in nature that can be easily implemented into all design concepts. Utilizing things such as Sacred Geometry, patterns, materials used, and that all-round goosebumps feeling we get when visiting spiritual and amazing places.

You can follow James’ work on Instagram at TheWavePoolArtist here and his day job account for Wedding Photography here.