Kelly Slater and Greg Webber caught in artificial wave controversy

November 25, 2011 | Surfing
Artificial wave pools: the Greg Webber view of it

Kelly Slater, Greg Webber and a few surf media websites are exchanging sharp arguments over the artificial wave park technology that both parties are developing.

Webber is an Australian entrepreneur who has been creating an original concept of producing surfable waves in indoor environments, through Webber Wave Pools. SwellNet published an article saying what Kelly Slater Wave Company is working on is not unique.

"Since applying for a patent in 2008 Kelly Slater and his business partner, Adam Fincham, have twice been rejected because their wave pool infringes upon Greg Webber's design.

In both of their attempts - first in 2008 then again this year - the response from examiners at the US Patent Office has been identical: the design submitted by the Kelly Slater Wave Company is 'unpatentable over Webber.'", it can be read in the Surfpolitik corner.

Despite Webber's laidback attitude towards the competition issue, things heated up. "Slater is known to be an astute businessman and his will to win has garnered him an unbelievable 11 world titles, yet getting the first wave pool in the ground appears a race he cannot win", continues SwellNet.

Kelly Slater has answered back. "First off, the patent process is a trying one. Something like 98% of patents are rejected in the first attempt. Webber’s original was actually rejected, but this was not mentioned in the SwellNet article", says the 11-time world champion in The Inertia.

Slater believes "there are clear differences in our technologies, and even Webber is aware enough about that to have modified and re-applied for a patent to include the core idea exclusive to our technology which is a 'Solitary Wave'".

Greg Webber and Kelly Slater have already talked about the surf park dossier, six years ago, in Coolangatta.

"At one point about two years ago, we could possibly have joined forces, but we were both too far down the road on what we’d worked separately on for years. I obviously knew he was surfing behind boats (and to tell you the truth I’d love to do that with them cause it looks like a blast) but to be honest, it is a boat wake combined with a displacement of water as opposed to surfing a proper wave", says the Floridian.

While there's still a tight discussion between Slater, SwellNet, Webber, both technologies seem to be up and running. Whether you're making a boat-and-wake style artificial wave or a circular surf pool, surfers are only interested in the final result. Will we get barreled? How perfect are these waves?

"My excitement for this idea originally came from Kevin Roberts (Surf the Ring) with whom we had a multi-year deal, but it became evident very early on in testing (when we stumbled on the Solitary Wave idea) that his technology was not in the direction that we were hoping to go so we parted ways when our licensing agreement ran out", finishes Slater.