Senior Editor

You have heard, of course, about man-made waves. They’re all the rage right now, which means two things: all the rage or causing rage. Love them or hate them, however, they’re here and they’re here to stay. Sure, they’ve been around for a long time. Take City Wave, for example. It’s a wave that can be created pretty much anywhere. Similar to a river wave, City Waves are already in place all over Europe. Munich, Vienna, St. Gilles Croix de Vie, and Zurich are currently proud owners of them. Russia and Israel are in the process of building them, and Germany just stuck one in the middle of the L&T Mall, which you can see above.

Did you know that the first wave pool opened to the public way back in 1934? Bathers in high-waisted woolen swim trunks and frumpy, frilly bathing suits frolicked around at the Wembley Swimming Pool in London. At the time, surfing was just a glint in the public eye. A few years prior, in 1912, Duke Kahanamoku told the International Olympic Committee that surfing should be a part of the Games. Surfing in California was just wee baby, crapping in its hands and rubbing it on its face.

Then, a few short decades later, in 1966, Summerland Wavepool in Tokyo, Japan opened its doors. For the first time, surfers dipped their toes in the chlorine revolution. The waves sucked, but it was a step in the direction of the future we find ourselves living in now. Three years after that, Big Surf opened in Tempe, Arizona. “It was an enormous facility: at 20 acres of Hawaiian themed luxury, Big Surf included a 300 by 400-foot wave pool equipped with the best pool cleaners automatic and which was developed by an engineer (and non-surfer) named Phillip Dexter,” we wrote. “Initial reports from professionals at the time were positive – but the waves were still a far cry from anything the ocean could dish out. Emulating nature’s awesome power was, and still is, the most elusive factor in the wave pool industry.”

Then in the mid-’80s, surfers from all over the world gathered in Allentown, Pennsylvania for the World Inland Championship. Tom Carroll walked away victorious, but less than impressed. There are many more—Typhoon Lagoon, Sunway Lagoon, the Ocean Dome—but as far as surfable waves go, it was all kind of… meh.

Fast forward to present day. Wavegarden is a viable commercial business. Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch makes an absolutely perfect wave. Greg Webber still hasn’t produced his oft-spoken about circular rendition, and surfing is in the Olympics. Unless someone in charge has oatmeal for brains, it’ll happen in a wave pool. Surfing officially doesn’t need to happen in the ocean anymore… well, the act of sliding on waves doesn’t, at least.

While only time will tell if indoor waves like City Wave’s will be a flash in the pan phenomenon or a bonafide new branch of the sport, it seems very likely that the latter will be a part of surfing’s future. How much would you pay to have one of these in your backyard?


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