Wave Pool Surfing a Different Type of Surf Trip

With the recent video release of the Kelly Slater Wave Company wave pool the reality of quality wave pool surfing is more clear than ever.  Welcome to the future of surfing.  Thats great news if you want to surf more, the availability of near perfect waves will be increasing in the future and it certainly makes for a different & unique type of surf trip.  Nothing will ever replace the pureness of mother nature, yet we sure are grateful for innovations and efforts to help folks surf more and be stoked!


The History Of Wave Pool Surfing

The Kelly Slater Wave Company is not the first to embark on the mission of creating surfing wave pools or wave pools in general. Claims to the creation of the first wave pools dates back to the late 1960’s in Tempe Arizona at the “Big Surf” and Point Mallard Parks Aquatic Center in Alabama – two of the top choice surf destination for a surf trip right?

Despite the ambition of surfing wave pool ideas, prototypes and promises of “the perfect wave,” to date most have been a buzz kill for surfers demanding better shape, more power and simply a more “natural artificial” wave. One example of this disappointment was the 1985 World Inland Surfing Championships held at Allentown Pennsylvania’s Wildwater Kingdom – where surfers competed in super short period and chlorinated chop, which was a flop.


Since the 1980’s the brainpower and technology going into surfing wave pools has amplified.  If you travel and surf, you have likely seen the classic, Endless Summer II, where Pat O’Connell takes a couple tubes in The Flowrider,  a high powered pump that shoots water a few inches above a rubber surface over a wall-like mold to create a standing wave with a tube section.  If you have visited Disney World at some point you may have even taken some body surf rides at the Typhoon Lagoon, where a 2009 local contest was completed due to flat conditions.

Outside the USA folks have been attempting to master the surfing wave pool, like the Sunway Lagoon, in Malaysia, Ocean Dome, in Japan and Siam Park, in the Carary Islands and an unnamed one in Dubai.


The most impressive, functional and economically feasible surfing wave pool has been created by the Wavegarden company.  Its had the most rave reviews, including high level professionals, and most press but suffers from long shut downs.  Other criticisms include, lack of consistency, crosschop, bumpy, backwash, crowds in the pool and that the “clean glassy wave” in the promo was “staged.”

The reality is wave pool surfing is not perfect yet, and it may never be, the really cool thing is its opening up outlets to surf more and differently.

Where To Find Surfing Wave Pools

You probably realized from reading the history of surfing wave pools that they are found all over the world – even in the middle east, really.  The Kelly Slater Wave Company wave pool is rumored to be in the Fresno area of Southern California – but is not yet open to the public at the time of this writing.  The leading commercial wave pool, Wavegarden, has its Demo Center in the Basque Country in Spain, “Surf Snowdonia” in North Whales U.K. and the company is partnering with NLand Surf Park in Austin Texas for north america’s first wavegarden surfing wave pool.

One thing is certain, the brainpower and investment going into developing commercial high quality surfing wave pools is real and it’s because people are demanding it.  We can choose to embrace it or not – either way its totally cool, as the sport continues to grow is true that break though innovations in surfing waves will provide more stoke for more people.

A Big Surf Wave Pool?

The jury is still out on the big surf wave pool.  The Wavegarden and The Kelly Slater Wave Company seem to be able to produce waves up to and just over head, which is about 6 ft.  Due to the massive amount of energy it takes to create waves in general the big surf wave pool may be something to keep an eye out for in the future as the technology of the basic surfing wave pools continues to improve.

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