One Small-ish Line Of Code, One Giant Leap For Wavegarden
Engineers in the Basque Country push a button, four pools around the world get new air waves.
“Theoretically, I could do it from my bed.”
Wavegarden, the first commercially viable wave pool technology company, has just completed a global rollout of four new air waves across four different pools in Brazil, Switzerland, South Korea and Australia.
None of the hardware at the pools had changed — there are no new pumps, bathymetry changes, or sunken objects creating the new punt sections. The new waves are the development of a software program that allows Wavegarden engineers — remotely from their testing center in the Basque Country — to modify any part of the wave’s three sections: the in-run, the launch section and the landing.
The four new air waves have been purpose-built for certain kinds of airs. Namely, straight airs and rotations, flips, alley-oops and softer model with less pop, for training purposes. The software program can modify these models further by changing the wave’s power, steepness, and bend.
The models have been iterated over the past several weeks in secret with the WG engineering team who commissioned the help of Victor Bernardo (Praia De Grama & South Korea), Luke Swanson (South Korea), Reef Heazlewood and Dion Agius (URBNSURF Melbourne), funnily enough, all of whom are Stab High alumni. On Monday night, the SEOTY contender Leonardo Fioravanti got first dibs at the new ramp in Alaia Bay, Switzerland.
Of course, the cameras were rolling — but this wasn’t just an exercise in stacking clips. There was no one-size-fits-all magic formula that would work everywhere. Instead, the engineers had to crack the code for each pool.
To do so, the Wavegarden team watched live streams of each session while on Zoom calls with crew on the ground at each location. The surfers provided feedback, which would be given to the Wavegarden crew so that they could modify the waves in real-time.
Wavegarden CEO and Founder Josema Odriozola told Stab, “I am never going to forget the look on Luke’s face on the second day when he went from an excited state to fearful. Luke had been saying, ‘This is becoming better and better, and we are improving fast.’ Suddenly, he became very serious and said, ‘This is getting scary,’ because of how much speed you could obtain. It could launch you dangerously high.”
Josema, an industrial engineer by training, has spent the past 17 years in the wave pool biz and is largely credited for founding the first commercially sustainable wave pool technology. He is still very much hands-on involved in the technical execution and delivery of the new models. “I’m more motivated than I ever have been. It’s proven to be a profitable business model and we create truly good experiences for surfers. All the employees of Wavegarden are users of the pools. At Wavegarden, we are creating our own toys so that we can enjoy them.”
“We have great capabilities that give us more freedom to move every panel in each module. It requires new movement equations for the modules. The biggest improvement is in air, but also we’ve been doing some new barrels and some new turn waves as well. This will continue to evolve as we get more feedback from surfers.”
The availability of these waves to the public won’t be immediate, and will be the choice of the operators at each Wavegarden location. “They have to decide how to commercialize these waves. Right now, it looks like the air waves are going to be done in private sessions.”
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