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Why Surfing Needs Wave Pools and Surf Parks

Due to the lack of suitable surf sites and optimal conditions for surfing there is a significant gap in the market for world class waves. Unlike many other sports, for which new recreational facilities may be built to meet increased demand, surfing has previously been confined to a limited number of natural surf locations. Natural surf locations are subject to the interaction of wave and wind conditions, tide level, bottom configuration, and access to the surf.

With a considerable lack of great waves around the world there has been a steady increase in crowds, injuries, and conflicts in recent years. Many surf locations around the planet are a prime example of a Tragedy of Commons.

Each year beach replenishment projects and coastal construction results in the destruction or temporary degradation of surf sites. This elimination of surf sites decreases the surfing potential of a region and tends to cause overcrowding at the remaining sites. Overcrowding increases the frequency of injury and decreases the enjoyment of the sport. What if coastal engineering projects placed a high value on wave enhancement for recreational benefit?

The idea of creating high quality surfable waves in a wave pool or surf park  has been a dream in the minds of surfers around the world for many years. In wave pools we will be able to create optimal conditions for surfing. The key variables for creating high quality waves and surf locations will be fully under our control:

  • Wave height distribution
  • Variability of peel rate
  • Wave shape and steepness of face
  • Waiting time between sets and total number of rides per set
  • Number of surfers in the water at any given time
  • Water surface and wind conditions
  • Water temperature and quality
  • No tide dependence
  • Bottom contours and surface (No urchins or sharp fire coral!)

This dream has been only partially realized thus far with the construction of several wave pools that produce average quality artificial waves for surfing. The best wave pool to date was the Seagaia Ocean Dome in Miyazaki, Japan which was closed due to high operating costs in October of 2007. The best pool for surfing in current operation is the Wadi Adventure Wave Pool in Al Ain, UAE.

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