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New wave pool in Australia (And Ushers In Brand New Surf Technology)

Over the past few months, it seems like the world has gone crazy for wave pools. Between the Founder’s Cup and then the world tour event at Slater’s Surf Ranch, the multiple air shows and air contest at Waco’s BSR water park, and then the subsequent amoeba scare in Waco, wave pools have been all over the news lately. And here at Hawaiian South Shore, we are even getting in on the action, with our store manger Brett scheduled to visit the Surf Ranch in December. This week yet another chapter unfolded in the battle of the wave pools, as Australia’s first pool opened for beta testing. A collaboration between Mark Occhilupo, Barton Lynch, and a company called Surf Lakes, this surf pond (for lack of a better descriptor is located in a mining town called Yeppoon near Brisbane, and features a brand new type of wave pool technology that we haven’t seen anywhere else. Rather than using a foil on a track to produce waves (like Wavegarden and the Surf Ranch) or chambered air (like the BSR pool), Surf Lakes uses a huge mechanized plunger shaped a bit like an inverted mushroom. The plunger is powered by a crazy motorized contraption that bangs and booms and vents white smoke every time it fires off a wave, and looks a lot like something out of the movie Mad Max. Each time the plunger rises and then drops into the water, it creates a concentric wave that moves out in 360 degrees, producing rideable peaks on five different “reefs”. The breaks range from a slab to mellower, user-friendly waves, as well as the marquee wave dubbed “Occy’s Peak,” which features a barrel followed by a rippable wall and a final air section. The Surf Lake has only been in operation for the past few days, with investors, media, and a handful of pros in attendance to give it a test run. There have been a number of mechanical issues, and the wave hasn’t yet been turned up to full power, but the videos filtering out definitely show a number of surfable peaks with different characteristics appropriate for different styles and levels of surfing. We had a chat with Surf Lake’s main media man Wayne Dart a few weeks ago, and he explained that the main benefit of their new technology is that it allows for far more ridden waves per hour than any other wave pool currently in operation. With five peaks featuring two waves each (a left and a right), you can theoretically have 10 people riding waves with each drop of the plunger. And according to Wayne, the Surf Lake technology can produce six concentric waves per minute—up to 3600 rides per hour, if everything goes smoothly and every peak is surfed by two people. This is a huge increase over the 10 or so rideable waves per hour at the Surf Ranch—although Slater’s two-minute-long wave can certainly make a case for quality over quantity. The initial clips coming out of Yeppoon definitely show room for improvement—the pool is currently generating waves about half as big as they claim is possible, and thus far we have only seen three-wave sets, with the second wave of each set appearing to be far superior in quality to the first and third. But considering the pool’s potential, and the fact that it has only been in operation for a few days, this is definitely something to get excited about. Meanwhile, Hawaii hasn’t had any need for a wave pool over the past month, as we’ve enjoyed one of the best October’s in recent memory, with pretty much non-stop south swells. It looks like things are finally going to slow down on the Town side, but the North Shore season is just starting, so get those guns waxed up and take your wave pool daydreams to the Country!