Kelly knows the barrel better than anyone at the Surf Ranch

Wave Pool vs Ocean, The Great Debate…

09th Apr 2019

As more and more wave pools come into fruition, more and more surfers begin asking the same question. 

“Will wave pools change the way we think about surfing?” 

Just a few years ago, Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch nearly broke the internet with promo videos of surfers riding endless number of beautiful mechanical waves. My first thought was “WOW”, an incredible accomplishment of science, a boy-hood dream of Kelly’s fulfilled and WHEN CAN I SURF IT!!! 

Unfortunately, the more I watched, the more I lost interest. For me, I quickly realised watching the exact same wave in the exact same synthetic environment over and over and over again actually turned me off. It just felt like something was missing. 

The Modern Wave Pool

With modern research and engineering, wave pool capabilities have increased drastically. The beauty is that they provide a wonderful foundation for beginner surfers to learn, especially those who don’t live anywhere near surf-able oceans.

For those surfers who are more advanced, the wave pool offers great ways to practice techniques and tricks without having to worry about paddling out on a flat day. The one thing that is missing though, is the life and breath of the ocean. It’s the uncertainty, the surprises, the local surfers, the marine life, the salty air, and the inspiration of the surrounding environment that lets you know you’ve traveled to a one-of-a-kind spot to surf a special wave.

With that said, wave pools have their place, but comparing the two is a moot point, as they each provide a unique experience. I wouldn’t doubt that with the advent of wave pools that we see surfing in the summer Olympics one day.

For those looking to check out some of the best wave pools around the world, get yourself a solid board from FinBin. Visit the page and book a flight to one of these wave pool havens.

Best Wave Pools Out There

Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch

In December 2015, Kelly Slater made a response to the rise in popularity of small wave pools opening up around the world. He decided to put a team together and create a massive, 2,000-foot long pool with 45-seconds of perfect tubes. The waves reach up to 6.5 feet, though can also be adjusted depending on the surfer’s experience.

As of right now, you must know Kelly Slater or have an “in” to go surf at the ranch, though this year they will be finishing up a Surf Ranch in Florida that will be opened to the public.

The Wavegarden Cove

The Cove was one of the very first artificial surfing experiences that really caught the eyes of pro surfers everywhere. Though it started in Spain, Wavegarden currently has locations in Wales, U.K. and Austin, Texas. Their machines are able to deliver 1000 waves per hour at the touch of a button, perfect for surfers of all experience levels.

American Wave Machines

The PerfectSwell concept is a bit different, as the company uses air pumping technology to try and create waves that are a bit less perfect. From beach breaks to peeling waves, the American Wave Machines team has been able to create all types of waves in varying sizes that are in constant change.

The American Wave Machines pool is located in the BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas. Visit this spot and ride one of the most realistic pool waves out there.

UNIT Parktech Surf Pool

The UNIT team created the very first “floating surf pool” in Cologne, Germany. The beauty of this eco-friendly, stationary wave system is that it can be installed in any body of water in the world. There are multiple wave pool sizes and they can be shipped anywhere for personal or public use.

I don’t doubt that their wave pools will soon be popping up in local rivers and lakes around the country.

Surf Lakes

In a commercial sense, Surf Lakes makes the most sense! The technology boasts the first wave pool of its kind with multiple waves breaking at the same time (four to be exact).

The wave pool can spit out up to 6 wave sets at a time with a variety of wave types including a slab, a rippale left hander, beach break and a learn to surf area.

Although not completely finished, the prototype should get surfers all over the world excited to try it. Imagine going to a place for a surf holiday with 4 to 5 waves ready to go in the same pool! Heaven? For some…yes!

URBNSURF Wavepool (Melbourne, Australia)

URBNSURF is revolutionising surfing in Australia and the world by developing and operating world-class surf parks that will make the joys of surfing accessible, safe and convenient for more people than ever before.

Harnessing Wavegarden’s patented wave-generating technology, URBNSURF parks will be capable of kicking up 1,000 high-quality, ocean-like waves every hour. With URBNSURF Melbourne opening this Summer, and with URBNSURF Sydney commencing construction in 2020, URBNSURF is hoping to develop ten world-class surf parks in Australia over the next decade.

Final Thoughts on Wave Pools

There is a rich, spiritual connection that we surfers have with the ocean. Surfing is not always about catching amazing waves. It’s about being patient, being mindful, and experiencing one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts.

For practicing and learning, wave pools are a wonderful gift. They allow aspiring surfers everywhere to catch waves and enjoy the sport without having to travel great lengths to the natural shores to do so. However, in saying that, one day we might consider a surf trip to a wave pool a real thing…

BUT, Will they ever replace ocean surfing? I highly doubt it.

Should you make it a point to experience one? Absolutely you should.

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