"Now that we've settled it, OP should probably delete this thread."
December 18, 2015 11:09 PM   Subscribe

At the age of 43, Kelly Slater has done just about everything a professional surfer can do, and done it more than once. After eleven world championships, (he was both the youngest (at 20) and oldest (at 39) to be ranked #1) he's the all-time win leader, and the first surfer ever to earn two perfect waves at Tahiti Pro. He romanced Nicole Eggert on Baywatch. According to Slate you should be worshipping him. Now his greatest achievement is at hand.

After a decade of work, the Kelly Slater Wave Company produced an artificial lake that can generate the perfect wave: Uniform height, unbroken curl and a full 45 seconds of ride time, on demand. Slater's still silent on the technical details, though and his celebratory video only says the location is "110 miles from the coast."

r/Surfing had the location within a day.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta (29 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I saw this earlier today, and I just want to ride tha so badly. This is very cool.

Still not gonna worship Kelly Slater though, and I don't care how pretty his eyes are or how perfect his abs are or any of that. Though I've seen him surf out here & his style can be ethereal. Like Baryshnikov on the water. He really is something else.

Also: good job, Reddit detectives.
posted by kanewai at 11:18 PM on December 18, 2015


Whoa, how the hell does that standing wave work? How is that generated and controlled?
posted by special agent conrad uno at 11:30 PM on December 18, 2015


Standing wave isn't really a good term for this. The wave is propagating down the water, it is just man made and very very consistent. From something I saw awhile back, there is a big underwater 'plow' or hydrofoil that traverses down the center of the pool that causes the wave. All the voodoo is in the shape and design of that piece. I doubt anyone will see the actual piece for quite some time.
posted by TheJoven at 11:40 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd be surprised if that's ever anything but a toy for rich folks because its gotta be godawful expensive to run and maintain. But it does look cool.
posted by Justinian at 12:22 AM on December 19, 2015


Ah, fluid dynamics, your wonders never cease. Having topped out at high school Algebra II and university Introductory Statistics, I'm so glad there are people out there who can properly speak Math.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:40 AM on December 19, 2015


I'd be surprised if that's ever anything but a toy for rich folks because its gotta be godawful expensive to run and maintain. But it does look cool.

I'm not a surfer, so take my thoughts with a grain of sand.

Sure, only rich folks can own one of these, but a roller coaster costs and ungodly amount of money to build, and yet riding on one isn't achievable. I can certainly imagine a 'surf park' where serious surfers spend a ton of timing honing their skill; there isn't any reason why this has to be out of the reach of the surfing community. And all it takes is a few rich surfers (or more likely, sponsors) to enable access for all of their friends (and friends of friends).

I can imagine this being a big deal, and potentially being more affordable than travelling to find the right wave.
posted by el io at 1:03 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Something similar opened in Wales back in September: Surf Snowdonia. Its 150M long and wikipedia says "The pool is 300 metres (980 ft) long and 110 metres (360 ft) wide, containing a total of six million gallons of water. A bi-directional snowplough-shaped wave-generation mechanism, towed on a cable between the two central towers, moves up and down the pool on a three-rail track, generating the waves. The underwater machinery, powered by a 2MW motor, is covered with a protective stainless steel netted screen, to keep surfers from any moving parts, yet without impairing the energy of the waves." The Wavegarden claimed the world's first artificial wave surf competition the month it opened.

The Guardian covered its opening. The price for use starts from £19 for beginners and £29 for intermediate and advanced users (the distinction seems to be whether you go in the part with the shallower waves, the middle depth wave or the biggest, which are 2m high). They can get 52 surfers in the water at a time which defrays the cost.

Some video of the pool in use.
posted by biffa at 1:09 AM on December 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


its gotta be godawful expensive to run and maintain.
You know what else is expensive to run and maintain? Ski lifts. This is huge. As a windsurfer I can't wait for these to start sprouting up.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:24 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


MeFI: I'd be surprised if that's ever anything but a toy for rich folks because its gotta be godawful expensive to run and maintain.
posted by fairmettle at 2:42 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd assume it works like the Eisbach in the center of Munich.
posted by vacapinta at 3:21 AM on December 19, 2015


Why's the water poo-tinged?
posted by Rhomboid at 4:20 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is it possible to have a standing wave run in a loop? Because that would be very cool.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:33 AM on December 19, 2015


Why's the water poo-tinged?

It looks to be, basically, a static shallow pond dug out of the ground. There's probably no liner, just compacted earth. The wave action most likely stirs up sediment, too. So, poo-colored water.
These are, of course, guesses
posted by Thorzdad at 5:19 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


THere's also the possibility of tannins being in it.
posted by TedW at 5:38 AM on December 19, 2015


Vacapinta: the Munich one is a fixed V shaped piece of metal IIRC held in place with heavy cabling and the river water passes through a manmade channel and over it to produce the wave. This is a fixed pool and the blade goes through it to make the wave. The description of the Welsh one as a 'snow plough' blade does make it sound like the blade at the Eisbach, which I have visited a couple of times and which is clearly visible from the bank and bridge. I did take some pics of the blade at the Eisbach but they must be on an old camera somewhere and all the pics online seem to be of cool looking surfer dudes rather than the apparatus. I will check if my SO has some, she is a wave modeller and gave serious thought to modelling the flow through the Eisbach site as a teaching exercise.
posted by biffa at 5:53 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wave pool? I thought this would be about his fashion line.
posted by box at 6:02 AM on December 19, 2015


How is posting the lat-lon not an egregious breach of the "no doxxing" at reddit?
posted by bukvich at 6:07 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


45 seconds is insane. Just madness. There are only a handful of waves in the world, on good conditions, that provide a rideable wave that long. Rincon maybe, St Francis in South Africa before it got washed out, some random spot in west Africa no one can get to, maybe Bells in Australia, sometimes Malibu......and when they are firing there are 40 other people in the line-up dropping in on each other.

This will be a fantastic training facility, but wave pools have been around for ages. The real skill of surfing - what separates the pros from the Joes - is navigating the ocean, positioning and wave selection...once you're on the wave is the fun part.

And it's in Fresno.
posted by remlapm at 6:11 AM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I also don't think it's a "pond" with dirt bottom. Dirt, like sand, moves, affecting the shape of a wave. Reef breaks are consistent because the ocean floor never changes, but a beach break wave breaks differently all year depending on the sand bar.

I imagine it's some sort of static spongy bottom to prevent injury, but not a soil, sand, soot or other particle that will shift.

- gah hit post too soon. And the brown color is intentional to prevent revealing what's going on under the water
posted by remlapm at 6:18 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


this video is amazing, I love it, not just because of the wave and seeing him toy around on it (which is still frankly fascinating) but because of how excited and gratified he is

surfing is something I've always wanted to learn to do, but I live in the midwest and have my whole life, and going somewhere where I even have the option of learning is ridiculous, financially, and when you get somewhere where it's an option you have no guarantee the conditions are gonna treat you right. the only real chance I had was on a study abroad in Norway--it was November but the place had dry suits and the temperature was manageable, but a pretty bad storm was moving in and just a week before a wave had built up big enough to sweep a group of students into the sea just maybe 50 yards or so where we were staying. I've done a lot of stupid things and am up for a lot more but that just wasn't worth it.

so yeah. something like this? I don't quite want to use the term 'desperate' in terms of wanting to learn to surf because I'm sure if I made it my life I could've scraped together money, forsaken college, etc. But I would've paid (and would have been able to pay) good money to go to to something like this, and I know at the moment they're not ubiquitous or anything so they're probably going to be reserved for pros, but man, if this'd been around in park form 15 years or so ago I would have been dropping cash to go there in a heartbeat

(I mean, I managed to get pretty into skiing and let me tell you in the corn belt that's not an easy task)
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 7:44 AM on December 19, 2015


How is posting the lat-lon not an egregious breach of the "no doxxing" at reddit?

The location of a commercial endeavor isn't quite the same as doxxing a person. Also, there were certainly voices in that thread that wanted the thread deleted after they determined the address of that commercial endeavor.
posted by el io at 9:28 AM on December 19, 2015


There's a fairly large cottage industry built around teaching people to surf on destination holidays. The dream of nose riding a 5ft peeler when in reality you will be likely splashing around like an idiot in the whitewater exhausted after 45 minutes. At best the instructor will push you in to a wave, you'll stand up and head straight forward for 3 seconds until you fall off.

Surfing has an incredibly, incredibly steep learning curve that sometimes lasts months, going every day, to truly be comfortable in the ocean: paddling out, turning turtle under the breaking waves, positioning, paddling, catching a wave and properly popping up on the board without pearling or eating shit.....and that all has to be learned before you even "ride" a wave.

So while these parks and manufactured waves are awesome for simulating surfing, assuming you can catch the wave, they absolutely, in no way will prepare you for what the actual ocean experience is like. And, quite frankly, they may inflate your confidence and perceived ability level, putting you and others in danger should you try and apply the experience to even the most modest ocean swell.

I don't mean to poo poo anyone's holiday plans.....but if you are planning on learning to surf on a vacation, you will likely be very disappointed.
posted by remlapm at 10:06 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


With such a small volume, one wonders if you could get a better wave by adulterating the water. Change the salt level? Add something to create (or eliminate?) viscosity? Why not liquid mercury? OK that last one may not be a healthy idea.

There's several artificial lakes like this for waterskiing in California. Also a couple of seaplane landing spots, like Frazier Lake.
posted by Nelson at 10:11 AM on December 19, 2015


remlapm that's not a steep learning curve
posted by bukvich at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2015


There's a fairly large cottage industry built around teaching people to surf on destination holidays. The dream of nose riding a 5ft peeler when in reality you will be likely splashing around like an idiot in the whitewater exhausted after 45 minutes.

Yup I did this once - man good surfers make it look so easy.
posted by atoxyl at 1:45 PM on December 19, 2015


Not that I expected to really be able to surf by the end of the day you just don't realize how hard you have to work to even get on a wave for two seconds.
posted by atoxyl at 1:49 PM on December 19, 2015


Atoxyl, that work gets easier and easier, not just from paddle fitness but comfort and knowledge.

I surf at a break that Skip Frye (surfing legend) frequents. The guy is pushing 80 and never breaks a sweat after hours in the water, his timing is flawless, wave selection and positioning superb and paddling out is effortless. Muscle bound beach bros on foamies are cooked after 45 minutes in the same waves.

This wave machine simply can't replicate ocean conditions, which are 50%of surfing. And I didn't even go in to etiquette and navigating around other surfers, which is a whole other set of chaos, machismo and Jr High school level social pecking order bullshit you have to sort out while trying not to get hammered by a breaking wave.

There are also sharks.

(I've been surfing daily for ages, all the bs aside, the feeling of sliding down a wave is indescribable, but it takes a lot of time and work to get there)
posted by remlapm at 3:19 PM on December 19, 2015


Montreal river surfing. (Not the same situation from a flyid mechanics perspective, but cool nonetheless.) Standing wave in a wave tank. There's some math behind it, of course (note: non-introductory math links; only did a quick google search on my phone).
posted by eviemath at 12:34 PM on December 20, 2015


45 seconds is insane. Just madness. There are only a handful of waves in the world, on good conditions, that provide a rideable wave that long. Rincon maybe, St Francis in South Africa before it got washed out, some random spot in west Africa no one can get to, maybe Bells in Australia, sometimes Malibu......and when they are firing there are 40 other people in the line-up dropping in on each other.

You're forgetting the river bores. They seem pretty comparable to the lake sites in terms of uniform movement over time.
posted by biffa at 3:16 PM on December 22, 2015


« Older Micromanaging the Model   |   Passport Power Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments