Stab Magazine | Rumor Has It The Waco Pool Has Land Set Aside For A New Pool 5x The Size
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Rumor Has It The Waco Pool Has Land Set Aside For A New Pool 5x The Size

“The technology is 100-percent scaleable,” Bruce McFarland of American Wave Machines tells Stab. 

news // Sep 29, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

For Bruce McFarland the road to freshwater redemption has been a long time going. In the early 2000s he founded his company, American Wave Machines, after designing prototypes in his backyard. For the last dozen years he’s toiled mightily to turn his wave pool dreams into a reality. The opening of the BSR Cable Park, Seth Moniz’s backflip, the recent good times at Stab High, it’s all because of Bruce’s imagination and expertise.

The pool in Waco is powered by American Wave Machine’s Perfect Swell technology and this week Stab sat down with Bruce and his son, Will, to see just how far his aquatic revolution could go.

For starters, there are already two pools in development. One is part of the American Dream development project at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The other is in a resort town outside of Sochi, Russia.

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Actual photo of Russian nationals enjoying their new wave tub. Photo: Internet

“The Russia one is complete except for a few finishes. It’s a resort primarily for Russian travelers, but I think they’ll get surfers from Moscow, for sure,” said Bruce. “American Dreams is a huge project with a lot of moving parts. The estimated opening date, I believe, is now sometime in 2020. It’s a massive project. The concrete is all there.”

“The one in Russia has been in development since before BSR, and the American Dream project in New Jersey is in the works,” added Will. “They’ll both be smaller wave pools than BSR, but those are under way. It’s the same technology, just in a smaller space. So, probably, unlikely to host full pro contests like Stab High, but they’re still going to be super fun.”

As far as the impact of all the recent publicity the BSR Capable Park has brought to their Perfect Swell technology, including Stab High, it took Bruce awhile to convince people—and potential investors—that it was viable, but the momentum appears to be on his side now.

“It’s a see-it-to-believe-it kind of industry, and to our dismay, we’ve had the Perfect Swell technology in development and pretty much done for the last seven or eight years, but I think some of the old pools like Ron Jon, and some of the failures, it led to some skepticism within the surf industry,” described Will. “That was a little bit of an issue. But BSR and the technology there has definitely made some believers.”

https://www.youtube.com/embed/oAyAABjPnSQ

You remember, don’t cha?

In terms of economic feasibility, the ability to turn a surf park into a profit has long hindered the development process of more American Wave Machine and other wave pool projects. Looking at BSR as a case study, that may have changed.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the monthly operating costs for the park. It’s very reasonable. If anything, it’s lower than expected,” explained Bruce. “As it turns out we’re in the cents per wave, as far as electricity costs. So, it’s very reasonable. Every location would be different because of different pricing structures of the local power providers. I can say this, a lot of people for a long time said surf is going to be a loss leader. It’s it a big capital expenditure and it’s not huge capacity, compared to a rollercoaster or something like that…people per minute. You can’t have 100 people at one break, you have to have a reasonable number of people. But it turns out that our surf technology is a good payback by itself. It pays for itself. You don’t need revenue from other sources. The other sources, location development, entertainment, food and drinks, that’s all icing on the cake. The numbers are good.”

And for all the skeptics calling for bigger, more powerful wave pools. Bruce and Will can make the surf as big as you want, but it’s not cheap.

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Rumor has it that Stuart Parsons, owner of Waco’s Barefoot Ski Ranch, has set aside land to build an ever bigger version of the pool you saw in Stab High. Photo: Corey Wilson

“Wave size is directly proportional to the power installed,” said Will. “So, if money was no object and we could divert nuclear energy to the wave pool we could make a huge wave. That’s what people have to understand, it’s just about the power and there’s a reason why we’re in that six-foot range. That’s the sweet spot for power…and fun. But the technology is 100-percent scalable, so yeah, if you had some kind of crazy power source to draw from you could make a huge wave.

“You’re never going to be able to match the raw power of the ocean, that kind of scary surf you get in the winter, so we’ve never thought somehow it’s going to usurp regular surfing,” continued Will. “Like Pipeline, you can’t do Pipeline in a pool. That goes without saying, but we do think about the training aspect a lot. You can actually train for specific maneuvers. As we all know, it takes a long time to learn how to do an off-the-lip if you’re a beginner. But now you can train that. You can train for any maneuver. It could get to a point where if you don’t have access to a pool you’re going to be at a competitive disadvantage. For most of surfing is for fun and not competitive, but everyone wants to surf better. At the end of the day, the engineering, everything, it was all about having fun. It was engineered for fun.”

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