Wave pools aren’t a new concept. As far back as the 19th century the famous castle builder Ludwig II of Bavaria electrified a lake to create breaking waves. More recently, the first (and last) professional surfing competition held in a wave pool occurred in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1985.
In recent years, new technology has led to the production of better waves. Malaysia’s Sunway Lagoon and the Wadi Adventure Park in the United Arab Emirates have hosted numerous professional surfers and photography shoots. Meanwhile, the Wavegarden in Spain’s Basque country has offered incredible waves in a natural lake setting, all be it ones not available to the public.
Even more artificial waves are also being built. Here are three that have currently been green-lit, two in the United Kingdom and one in Australia. However, it begs the question: When will the U.S. get its own world-class artificial waves?
Sunshine Coast, Australia
The first pool to be designed by Webber Wave Pools, but constructed by Waterplay Pty Ltd, the company behind Sunway Lagoon and the Wadi Adventure Park, will be on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The designer, Greg Webber, claims that his technology creates waves unlike other artificial versions in that they have no trough and so create a barrel, the holy grail of man-made waves. The park is scheduled for opening in 2016.
Set in the foothills of the Snowdonia National Park, in Conwy Valley of North Wales, Surf Snowdonia will be the first publicly accessible Wavegarden. It uses the exact technology of the Basque country’s version and says it can deliver consistent surfing waves of varying heights up to six feet in a 300-yard-long lagoon. Prices haven’t been confirmed; however, the company says a one-hour lesson will be in the region of $40 to $70. It is scheduled to open in summer.
The Wave Bristol is unique in that its capital was raised through crowdfunding. Originally requesting $230,000, it ended up raising $337,000, meaning the site near the village of Easter Compton on England’s west coast received approval in June of 2014 and is scheduled to open this year. Not much has been offered in terms of the wave technology; however, the website says “the business is based on the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainability—measured according to environmental, financial, and social factors.” A performance surfing center, restaurant, a natural swimming pool and education center will also be housed on the development.