Three years ago I embarked on a journey along the west coast of India in search of lonely waves. A month-long exploration revealed two shocking revelations: 1. There are indeed kilometers upon kilometers of unridden waves breaking onto golden sandy beaches in India, and 2. There are, be it a very small number, Indian kids riding them – even girls!I was pleased to see how surfing was changing the lives of these young, and often poverty stricken, kids. On the other hand – and perhaps it comes with being a surfer – I shuddered to think of the future should even a fraction of the population decide to take up surfing.
As it is, there are estimates that claim between 2001 and 2011, the population of surfers increased worldwide from 26 to 35 million. Back home in Bryon Bay, Australia, the consequences of this growth is evident – it seems everyone these days is chucking a board under their arm and heading for the water. Only this week I by-passed three backpacker girls pushing their surfboards in a shopping trolley.
With crowds throbbing to the point of no return, alongside the destruction of breaks as the direct result of industrial expansion, what’s a surfer to do?
The answer, to some, is simple – wave pools.
The concept of wave pools is nothing new and we have seen a number of wave pools pop up around the world. From a surfer’s point of view, aside from the Miyazaki Ocean Dome in Japan (it closed down unable to afford the running costs) we are still waiting for that perfect manmade “surfer’s playground” – the mother of all wave pools.
Perhaps the wait is almost over, and the wave pool of dreams is closer than we think…
Webber Wave Pools have just announced they should have the first prototype of their mega wave pool design in the ground – in New South Wales – within a year. The initial prototype will be in the shape of a crescent, not the full circle as proposed on their website – but let’s hope that’s where they are headed. It will operate at a height of 1.m, and stretch 150m in length.
Their ultimate plan is the full circle pool, featuring never ending waves, the ability to accommodate multiple surfers at once, the ability to alter the wave height and shape within seconds, and operate at a low energy cost.
The race is on for the prototype. In 2008, World Champion surfer Kelly Slater formed the Kelly Slater Wave Company, and has been busy testing his own theories and designs.
Who will get the first pool in the ground? Who cares! The wave pool movement will no doubt change the way we search for surf.
Let us know your thoughts!