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Wave Perfection

Corey Wilson


Behind the Shot

Imagine a perfect wave every 8 seconds. Imagine surfing at night under lights, or indoors in the winter. Imagine no sharp reefs, or shore breaks or sharks to contend with. The era of man-made, or more accurately, machine-produced, waves is here today. “Fake breaks” are becoming more and more common attractions all over the globe: in landlocked Austin, Texas, at Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World Florida, in an urban center of Munich, at Sunway Surf Park in the desert of the UAE, or indoors at Beijing’s Wavorhouse Urban Surf Club.

Artificial waves and wave pools are not new, though. The first go back to the 1800s, when King Ludwig of Bavaria had a wave machine installed in a lake. Artificially generated waves in swimming pools date back to the 1920s in Germany. The gentle movement of the ocean was simulated in public pools in England in 1939. While “sheet-wave” pools were developed as early as the 1980s—using a jet of water against a wave-shaped surface—the first rideable barreling wave pool was opened to the public in South Africa in 2001. Since then, technology has advanced to the point where the waves are nearly indistinguishable from natural ocean waves.

Corey had the rare opportunity to visit the test facility of one of the top producers of artificial wave technology based in Basque country in Spain. “The prototype machine produced perfect waves every few seconds. It’s right in the center of the forest. I went to check it out for myself. So out of place, but so beautiful, producing these perfect waves.”