A New Wavepool Is About To Fire Up In Australia And It's Unlike Anything We've Ever Seen!
What do Occy, Barton Lynch, and a giant plunger that makes perfect 8ft waves in the middle of inland Queensland, have in common?
The race to weaponise Australia with wavepools is in full swing.
URBNSURF have the indisputable advantage so far, with their established European prototype pushing waves for over a year now and more recently with the release of images showing actual construction taking place at their Tullamarine site, near Melbourne airport.
They've been singing from the rooftops about their plans for multiple sites across the country for quite some time now. Not long ago Stab interviewed the main man behind the project, Andrew Ross, who spoke of one thousand possible rides per hour and a slick water park venue complete with bars, cafes and various retail outlets; a tantalising and viable commercial model.
Before the first vision of Wavegarden's The Cove saturated our feeds, hopeful aussies were holding onto Greg Webber's foil-generated dream. Back in 2014, Webber Wave Pools announced it had a location locked down, followed by the release of a flurry of shin skimming boat wakes videos and selfie Youtube clips that contained more enthusiasm than concrete evidence.
The last broadcast from Webber Wave Pools was a Facebook post dated August 2016 and featured a man hobbling along behind a boat on his backhand. Then radio silence. (Greg, if you're listening, we really hope the dream is still alive, give us a sign).
Occy's Peak, however, will reportedly have funnelling tubes grinding across its 'reef' in less than two months.
Surf Lakes is the official name for the enterprise behind the new entrant and while their marketing game might be faint in comparison to URBNSURF's, that doesn't mean their creation won't be any less thrilling. In fact, their design is ingeniously novel, with the wave generating mechanism likened to a plunger, rather than a foil (like Kelly's) or modular panel driven (Cove, Waco) system.
Please, please let this be real life.
The plunger device stands in the middle of the pool, sending out concentric wave 'rings' to eight surrounding reefs, all custom designed for different rides. There'll be everything from beginner 'beach breaks' to soft points, wedges and a slab likened to a mini-me Teahupoo.
Surf Lakes are also claiming their technology is immune to the backwash and turbulence that plagues Lemoore, allowing them to jam out around 2400 waves per hour up to four feet in height.
Excavation at the site near Rockhampton, Queensland, is already complete and the final touches in construction are currently being made. The lake is reportedly 200m x 150m in size and will host the prototype that Surf Lakes will use to sell their tech to the rest of the world.
Don't get your hopes up for a session just yet however, it'll remain invite only for the time being, the same way Wavegarden's Basque Cove is currently. But if you really want to get involved, and have a spare $100k, you can invest in the biz, which should guarantee you a priority pass once their giant piston starts firing.
Stab jumped on the line with Surf Lake's media correspondent, Wayne Dart for a little more detail on what they have cooking on that enormous piece of land in the dead centre of absolutely nowhere.
Occ's XXL dirt playground.
Stab: Hi Wayne, we’ve heard bits and pieces in the past, but with all eyes on other artificial waves in recent months, you guys had kind of slipped into the shadows, we thought we’d check in and see where you were at.
Wayne: Yeah, we’ve been holding out, obviously until we get the wave breaking. There’s a lot of action out there and it’s kind of pointless for us to keep putting up building shots when these guys are releasing waves. We’ll wait until we get the thing going then we’ll go hard again.
We saw you guys had some construction happening, what's the update?
Yes, well the site is at Yeppoon, or in between Yeppoon and Rockhampton. This site won’t be for commercial purposes, or available to the public, however. It’s our research and development site, also our demonstration site. From there we’ll be bringing in licensees to the facility who'll come to see how it works, then go and build their own.
There’s been over 100 enquiries, from everywhere, Vietnam, Fiji, Brazil, the US, Portugal, the UK, you name it. Obviously, we can’t move forward until we have the thing finished, which we expect to be roughly around late August.
So late August we can expect to see some waves pushing around in there?
Yeah. We had quite a lot of setbacks in the building process just due to the weather. The first part of the year there were a lot of cyclones and heavy rain. When it rains up there in Northern Queensland, it really rains, mate. They can get close to two metres of rain in a day.
When you see the thing, the scale of it, the machinery and mechanics of the actual wave-making device in the hole it’s like ‘wow, this is huge’. It’s just massive.
On that, can you describe the waves and the generation process?
The technology behind the wave making device is totally different to everything that’s in the market at the moment. We know that Kelly’s is a large foil on a train and the American Wave Machines guys are using push-panel like systems to create the swells in a square shaped pool.
Ours is basically a plunger type operation at the centre of the pool which drops into a large volume of water creating a tsunami which comes out of the shallow water and into the deep water quite quickly and we get the wave breaking around that on the reefs that we’ve built.
This particular pool will have eight waves, or four peaks and we can create those waves every six seconds. The pulse will be between five to six waves in a set, then there’ll be a short break, then we’ll go again.
Got a spare $100k? Welcome aboard!
Is the gap because of the disturbed water and turbulence that results? Is that an issue?
Not really. Due to the nature of the design, backwash is really minimal, in comparison to the foil design or so on, and the square-shaped nature of the pool. Basically it runs off the reefs and back into the rip, like if it was an ocean. It’s difficult to picture it until you see it live.
The one-fifth scale demo, you can actually see the water draining back off the reef. By the third or fourth wave of the set it’s actually starting to dredge up a little more on the inside, like it would if it was a normal reef anyway. The first, second and third waves are going to be the better ones, like in the ocean, but the fourth, fifth and sixth are still going to be epic, they just dredge up a bit more as it gets shallower.
Nothing’s going to look as good as when the wave’s actually breaking, that’s why we’ve held back.
When the wave starts breaking in late August we’re going to take our team, so there’ll be Occ and BL [Barton Lynch], plus whoever Occ invites, because he’s the brand ambassador. He’ll invite some of his mates up. We’ll do the initial filming, similar to what Kelly and those guys have done, get the shooting done then we’ll have a separate media launch. So, we’ll invite everyone up to surf it. We’re looking at September for that.
Well, we’re now quietly jumping out of our skins for a test ride!
Oh mate. When you see the one-fifth scale wave break, the penny drops. We looked at all the other technologies and it all just seems too-hard-basket, it doesn’t look natural. You see this and think, that makes sense. And there’s the commercial viability of it, because we can make eight waves every six seconds, there’s a lot more financial credibility behind it as well, versus one wave every five minutes that Kelly’s does…
How did Occy come to get involved?
We’ll we needed an ambassador and Occ was our first choice, obviously he’s available, we’d assume there’d be potential issues with anyone on the current World Tour circuit. And, well, it’s Occy and he’s awesome. He’s been involved in the actual design, he’s got his own peak, Occy’s Peak.
An amusement park for surfers.
I’ve heard whispers of this mysterious Occy’s Peak, tell me about it!
It’s a five second barrel from the takeoff, then a couple of big hits and finally and air section at the end. So he designed that reef. Jay, his son has also been in his ear as well regarding the air section at the end. The plan is to have Jay and Occy take off on that first peak when we get it pumping.
Do the other peaks have different shapes and rides?
Yea, each reef has been designed differently. I think the longest is about 75 metres in length – I’d have to look at the design to confirm that – and the largest section will get to 8ft high, that's double the height of anything currently in operation. There’s also a really heavy slab, that would probably be more suited to bodyboarders, like a Shark Island or mini Teahupoo type setup. That’ll be pretty hardcore. It’ll just be a dredging barrel, really wide open.
There’s a beach break that will be suited to surfers of a lesser ability or longboards or what have you. Then there’s another one that’s sort of in between everything, so there’s something for everyone. There’s also a kiddies corner, learn to surf type wave that breaks a little further in. It’s sort of like a reform that doesn’t quite suck up.
The mantra is ‘everyone gets a break’, we want to encourage surfing in all its forms. There’s something for longboarders, bodyboarders, Occy and co. We’ve even had an enquiry, some guys want to have a jetski competition in there [laughs], so that’ll be interesting.