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The Perfect Wave

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Escaping the cold December noons, you travel to the Hawaii Pipeline. The beach, renowned for its waves, is gleaming in the sunshine. You feel the light breeze of salty water on your cheek and vitamin D soaking into your skin. Having your best holidays, you decide to try this perfect blend of warm water and high waves. You stand on your surfboard and try your skills in the ocean.


But this scenario is usually far from reachable. Not only does surfing is highly costly, but also, as the weather is often unpredictable, it can be hard to find high waves. In Europe, the cost generating factor is mostly the absence of ocean that can create such waves as we can observe in Hawaii or Africa. Even assuming that we have the money for such travel, we cannot be sure for 100% that our journey will satisfy our surfing cravings due to the, for example, lack of wind. To fight with both of these factors and raise the popularity of surfing across the globe, Kelly Slater, an eleven-time world champion in surfing, came up with an idea to create a perfect wave machine.

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In 2009, this surfing legend with a spark of creativity and lust for a groundbreaking change to the surfing industry teamed up with the University of Southern California’s professor, Adam Fincham, to find the perfect wave. Inspired by an iconic movie, The Endless Summer, they began working on outsmarting nature and came up with a ring-shaped lake in which the wave endlessly went around the center. But Slater’s idea was to create a rectangular pool that would perfectly imitate the ocean’s atmosphere and skills needed. Studying complex mathematics to find a formula that can crack the geophysical fluid dynamics, in 2015, they invented The Kelly’s Wave. In the middle of California’s country, they set up Surf Ranch and started disrupting the surfing industry.

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In this approximately 2,000 feet long and 500 feet wide pool, the artificial wave is created by a unique system of hydrofoils. The pool is filled with 15 million gallons of UV-and-chlorine-treated freshwater, and the main 100-ton hydrofoil is named “The Vehicle.” Running down a track with the help of more than 150 truck tires, it has the ability to create 6.5 foot-tall waves, which run at about 30 kilometers per hour. Of course, for beginners, you can adjust the height of the stream and its speed to provide them with a safe and enjoyable experience. This invention astonished The World Surf League (WSL), and they are currently the most significant stakeholder in his Kelly Slater Wave Company. Furthermore, from 2019, you can participate in the Freshwater Pro Championships held at the Surf Farm led by the World Surfing Team and WSL.


The truth is that Kelly’s wave changed the surfing industry, and, in spite of the numerous wave pools created, Slater’s one is the best in history. Outsmarting nature, the technology behind it enables surfers to create a contest or just enjoy the sport without even thinking about the weather. But this invention also divided surfers into two groups – one that admires surfing because of its search for a wave, vibing with nature and the “perfect imperfections” of the ocean’s dynamics, and the other one that is more focused on the skills, adjusting techniques and making surfing mainstream.



  • https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/12/17/kelly-slaters-shock-wave
  • https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/04/kelly-slater-built-a-wave-machine-that-could-change-surfing.html
  • https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/the-new-yorker-radio-hour-extra-kelly-slaters-perfect-wave-brings-surfing-to-a-crossroads
  • https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/the-facts-and-figures-behind-kelly-slater-surf-ranch
  • https://blog.theclymb.com/out-there/10-of-the-worlds-best-waves/


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