Kelly Slater’s Perfect Artificial Wave: 11-Time World Surfing Champ’s ‘Magnum Opus’ Could Revolutionize Sport [Video]

Almost since Americans like Tom Blake first began riding waves in the early 20th century, learning the sport from Hawaiians like Duke Kahanamoku and other Hawaiian beach boys, surfers have played with the idea of creating a perfect surfing wave in a lake or a pool. After ten years of development, it now looks like 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater has created an artificial wave that is bigger, and of better quality, than anything surfers have seen before, and by a wide margin, according to the Inertia.

“This is the best man made wave ever made, for sure,” Slater was quoted. “No doubt about it.”

“It’s his magnum opus. His baby. His lasting mark on the sport of surfing’s future,” Dashel Pierson with The Inertia wrote.

Watch Kelly Slater surfing his new artificial wave in this footage available on the Kelly Slater Wave Company website and uploaded to Vimeo. It is interesting to note that the website for the company features the video and nothing else. Though it seems apparent that his goal is to bring surfing to a wider range of participants, at the moment, many people are clamouring to be Kelly Slater’s buddy and pro surfers are reported to be hoping for invitations from the much-revered surfing enigma. “Kelly Slater wave pool location” has been trending on Google and its actual location is said to be a “secret.”

“Every surfer wants to be Kelly Slater’s friend right now,” fellow pro surfer Alex Gray was quoted.


“Is this for real? Im freaking out,” two-time and current woman’s world surfing champion Carissa Moore was quoted. “Cannot get over how much fun this man made wave looks! Congratulations on all your hard work. If you hadn’t already left your mark on surfing you have now changed it forever. So….when do I get my invite?”

By the mid-1980s, waves pools had been built that were deemed worthy of holding professional competitions, such as the 1985 World Inland Championship staged in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as reported by the Inertia. Disney World is home to Typhoon Lagoon in Florida, which has also been host to pro events. Until the unveiling of Slater’s wave, Japan’s Ocean Dome was generally regarded as the world’s best artificial wave, but it was closed because it cost too much to operate.

The FlowRider was developed in the 1990s and was hailed for many years as the answer behind creating an inland surfing wave that was somewhat of a compromise. FlowRiders are fun, and profitable, and their creation has spawned an entirely new sport. Yet, while Flowriding is close to surfing, it is not the same; FlowRiders, while being fun, and popular, do not allow the full range of maneuvers that Kelly Slater’s new man made wave does.

Back in 2005, FlowRiders were reported to cost about $700,000 for basic installations, according to Forbes. Grande Prairie, Alberta installed a FlowRider with its newest aquatic facility. The city charges a premium of $5 to members and $10 to non-members for its use. In the UK, FlowRider users pay about $32.75 for a day pass at the Flowhouse Bedford, buying ten passes at a time.

Little has been reported about how much one of Kelly Slater Wave Company’s artificial waves will cost. Almost nothing is known about how the mechanism that produces the wave works, and it will likely remain proprietary for the foreseeable future. Further, the such a machine, given its size and scale, must have cost millions to develop. When Kelly Slater’s artificial waves will be available for towns and cities like Grande Prairie and water park installations is anyone’s guess.

There are more expensive FlowRider models that offer barreling tube rides, one of the most challenging, and satisfying, surfing maneuvers, but there has never been a artificial wave that offered tubes that could be truly surfed. Kelly Slater makes history in the barrel in the above video by surfing what is surely the longest non-FlowRider artificial tube ride ever.

Slater also performs a full suite of moves on a standard surfboard: cutbacks, aerials, floaters, reentries; the wave is indistinguishable from the real thing in every way. Because the wave is steeper than any previous artificial wave, it allows Slater to build the speed he needs to complete his full ocean repertoire of maneuvers that has made him the best, and most widely known, surfer of all-time.

[Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]