Man-made surfing waves can be seen and ridden at some theme parks and this could possibly increase if consumer use and company profits justify the expense. But are man-made surfing waves a good idea? What are the pros and cons? Let’s examine this idea further.
Wavegarden, a leader in man-made surfing waves, describes how their waves are created: “… works in the exact same way an ocean wave does. A mass of water is systematically moved over a surface that causes the wave to form and then fold on itself – just like a wave breaking over a reef or sand bar.”
Wavegarden states that the difference between their wave and ocean wave, is that they can control the size and speed of their wave which allows for surfers of different skill levels to ride the wave.
Wavegarden describes their technology as: “…innovative hydrodynamic Wavefoil and a revolutionary wave lagoon design which creates two perfect barreling waves at the same time.” That description is not exactly clear, as to how their waves are created and I don’t know if it necessary if we understand the technology behind the wave.
The basic concept behind man-made surfing waves, are that surfable waves are created by a machine and within an area that is large enough to make surfing the wave practical.
Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and 80 percent of the World’s population lives 60 miles from the coast. With these numbers you wouldn’t think that a theme park based around a man-made surfing wave would be economically practical, but a man-made wave isn’t affected as much by nature as an ocean wave is.
Ocean waves are definitely affected by the wind, the wind can make or break a surf session. It can turn surfable waves into an outright mess. Man-made surfing waves are not hindered by the wind.
Oceans contain creatures that may mistake the surfer for prey and unfortunately, the surfer could be attacked. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be attacked by a shark, in a man-made surfing wave park the chances are zero.
Oceans contain reefs, reefs equal barreling waves (a surfer’s dream) but reefs can also hurts the amateur as well as professional surfer. Man-made surfing waves do not contain reefs or rocks but the latest wave machine, being backed by 11 time World Surfing Champion Kelly Slater, creates barreling waves.
Ocean waves are also affected by swells and tides, these conditions do not hinder man-made surfing waves. How many times, during a surf session, have you actually caught a perfect, clean wave? Can you imagine how much fun it would be, if every wave you caught was a perfect, clean wave?
Weather will affect both ocean waves and man-made surfing waves, unless the man-made surfing waves are in enclosure, something similar to a dome. But some surfers in Alaska, surf when it’s snowing and there is ice in the water.
Theme parks with man-made surfing waves could introduce surfing to people who would never think of doing this activity and therefor increase the popularity of an already popular sport.
The one hour cost for surfing on these man-made waves is approximately $50.00. There is no cost to surfing an ocean wave and no time limitation. I would personally, like to try surfing a man-made wave but the cost would only have me doing it once or occasionally.
If you needed to wait in line, like you do at an amusement park, I would see this as a hindrance. I wouldn’t want to wait in line, especially when I can enter the ocean as soon as I get there.
If several surfers are surfing during your one hour session, how is it determined who gets to catch the wave? If it’s the best paddler who gets to catch whatever and how many waves he/she wishes, I can see that being a real problem. I would get angry if there was not some type of system in place to share the waves.
The surfer and the ocean have always been connected. There is something primal, therapeutic and spiritual about being in the ocean sitting on your surfboard and waiting for a wave. With the man-made wave, that surfer to ocean connection does not exist.
Paddling out and getting through rough surf and conditions, tests a surfer physically as well as mentally and will improve both. Man-made surfing waves will not offer these types of conditions and the surfer only used to man-made surfing conditions will not be properly prepared when facing the ocean wave.
What type of impact will creating theme parks centered on man-made surfing waves have on the environment and resources? Generally, anytime you have a large group of humans congregating in a specific location the environment will suffer. The man-made surfing waves, will obviously, require water and probably the frequent replacement of said water, how are they managing this invaluable resource?
Man-made surfing waves have many pros and cons but, in my opinion, it is a great idea. It offers the chance to increase the popularity of surfing, to those who may never have gone to the ocean to surf, but may try the sport if the conditions are more controllable as well as favorable.
The major stumbling block for me, and probably you, is the cost. I regularly surf 3 – 4 hour per surf session, if I was to surf at a man-made surfing wave location it could cost up to $200. Until they can significantly reduce the cost, I can only see myself visiting these places to give it a try but not on a consistent basis.
Check out my “Types of waves to surf,” post for valuable information on the types of waves to surf.
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