Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool Plans Hit Snag
A few weeks ago we posted a video clip of 11-Time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater giving a tour of a top-secret Los Angeles warehouse where he and a team of people are designing a wave pool that some have dubbed, “The Ring” due to its circular shape. We’ve heard about the design for a few years now but apparently the idea isn’t Kelly’s alone—an Australian surfer/inventor named Greg Webber filed for USA patent protection of his version of “The Ring” back in 2004.
Webber’s version was spawned after he and some friends created a perfect little wave by driving a fishing boat up and down a river. TransWorld SURF even ran some novelty photos of Taj Burrow and mates surfing the knee-high wake wave. Webber’s patent was approved in 2005 and he eventually formed a company, Liquid Time, that sought to build a wave pool with an island in the middle. The actual wave was to be created by a single hull on the outside of the ring that would race along the perimeter thus creating a breaking wave.
Now here’s where things get muddled. According to a report on swellnet.com.au, the Kelly Slater Wave Company applied for a wave pool patent but was rejected twice by the US Patent Office because their design was too similar to that of Webber’s. The problem for Slater and friends isn’t the ring design, it’s that their their “hull” (which makes the wave) is too similar to that of Webber’s. To continue down their course of design it seems that Slater and pals will have to either team up with Webber, re-tool their design, or fight it out in court.
While I can’t speak for everyone on the edit staff here at TransWorld SURF, I think wave pools are a complete joke. After all these years and countless millions spent on research and development, all the surf world has to show for it is a knee high mushburger in the the Basque country, Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando, and a few standing waves at landlocked malls. I realize there is a lot of money to be made if and when wave pools go mainstream, but right now all I see is chlorinated pools of water with no tubes, no fish, no currents, no protective locals, and no soul. Maybe Webber and Slater could should team up, get a bigger boat, and stop getting our hopes up.—Justin Coté
Question: Will we ever see a really good man made wave?