A brief history of artificial wave pools
- 08 August 2018 | Surfing
Wave pool technology is older than you think. The art of producing artificial surf dates back to the Great Depression and has since then changed the way people ride waves.
It all started in Europe, but the phenomenon has gone global. Today, you'll find man-made waves of all types, for all tastes. All you need to do is press a button or a touchscreen.
There are many ways of creating and mimicking an ocean wave, and that is why there are so many companies operating in the market right now. From America to Europe, and Oceania to Asia, each system has its pros and cons.
To understand how we reached today's stage is to dream of what the future holds for modern surfers. Is it an endless wave? Is it a 50-foot bomb? Is it a slow, barreling wave?
Let's take a look at the timeline of wave pools:
1845-1886: King Ludwig II of Bavaria electrifies one of his private lakes to create artificial waves;
1929: A swimming pool in Germany's Munich generates artificial waves thanks to "agitators" that pushed water through grates in the diving zone;
1939: A public swimming pool in London's Wembley, England, was equipped with hydraulic technology that created ripples similar to the ocean's flowing motion;
1969: Big Surf, the first wave pool in the United States, opens in Tempe, Arizona, and generates three-foot waves that lasted for six seconds;
1985: Wildwater Kingdom opens in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and hosts the world's first Inland Surfing Championships;
1989: Disney's Typhoon Lagoon opens in Orlando, Florida, and invites surfers to rides its three-foot waves for six seconds;
1993: The Sunway Lagoon opens in Malaysia and produces waves of up to nine feet thanks to its patented hydraulic pumping systems;
2005: José Manuel Odriozola and Karin Frisch found Wavegarden in the heart of Spain's Basque Country using a unique wave-generating formula specially designed for surfing;
2008: The Siam Park opens in Tenerife, Canary Islands, equipped with technology developed by Murphys Waves Ltd and an onsite desalination plant. Waves produced here can reach 11 feet;
2011: Wadi Adventure opens in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. It's Middle East's first surf pool and is capable of generating 10-foot high waves every 90 seconds;
2015: Surf Snowdonia, the world's first full-sized surf pool powered by Wavegarden, opens in Conwy Valley, in the heart of Wales. Its six-foot waves peel down the line for 20 seconds;
2015: 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater unveils his 45-second long barreling wave located in Lemoore, California;
2016: Nland Surf Park opens in Austin, Texas. It's America's first public wave pool, and it is also powered by Wavegarden. Surfers are invited to ride long left and right-hand waves;
2018: BSR Surf Resort unveils the first wave park by American Wave Machines. Located in Waco, Texas, the structure allows surfers to throw big airs and get barreled, in conditions similar to ocean waves;