The Beach Boys had the concept in the 1960s: If
everybody had an ocean, everybody would be surfing. Now it
may become more than a sing-along, thanks to the artificial
?It will never replace the ocean, but at the end
of the day, the notion is, you can introduce surfing to
Middle America,? said Dillon Moran, business
development manager at Aquatic Development Group Inc. in
Already, many waterparks nationwide and around the world
have some surfing technology at their facilities, either as
stand-alone features or in split-wave pools.
?With the boom of the indoor resort,
there?s definitely a demand out there for
it,? said Jacob Heuss, sales manager at Whitewater
West Industries, headquartered in Richmond, British
Columbia, Canada. ?The market for these pieces is a
supplemental amenity to a larger resort
But adding a fun, skills-based activity can work for
municipal facilities as well. The Republic Aquatic Center
in Republic, Mo., for example, added a surfing simulator
that sent the facility?s attendance soaring from
8,000 to 60,000 in one year.
With the growing demand comes a growing niche, as other
companies and designers try to join the crowd of patents
and technology already serving as a high entry barrier.
Engineers at ASR Ltd. in Raglan, New Zealand, have
developed artificial reefs that can be replicated on a pool
floor. The computer-controlled, movable floor found its way
into the world?s first surfpark, currently being
built in Orlando, Fla. This 110,000-square-foot outdoor
facility will feature a football-field-size pool. The pool
produces six waves a minute as high as 10 feet that travel
for about 75 yards. That means surfers can ?hang
ten? for at least 10 seconds. According to Moran,
passes are already sold out.
Another company, American Wave Machines, has built a
prototype that imitates standing waves in a river. This
allows surfers to remain on a wave for a long period of
time, practicing skills without being dependent on a
system?s timing, said Bruce McFarland,
president/owner of the Solana Beach, Calif., firm.
Some believe the concept of inland surfing will be even
more popular in landlocked areas because it won?t
compete with the real sport. ?You?ll create
a whole culture around it,? said Andrew Thatcher,
sales and marketing manager at Waveloch Inc. in San Diego.
?You don?t need to have surfers. If you
build it, they will come.?
Moran hopes that the growing interest may even go so far
as to bring surfing to the Olympics. ?If
you?re able to drive a consistent wave time after
time after time, you have the ability to host that type of
competition,? he said. ?To create a
?surfatorium? that?s a
long-term game plan.?