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It’s a freak of technology , created by a freak of nature.

“I’ll see your artificial wave and I’ll raise you a barrel.” – Kelly Slater on the Wavegarden (not really).


The Inertia

Although they weren’t the first, they certainly reigned supreme for a glorious window of time. The Wavegarden arguably pioneered the possibilities for artificial waves, by making both a right and a left, granting access to the public, and hosting the first ever stadium-style surf competition. Wavegarden was, and they will certainly continue to be, at the forefront of man-made wave technology.

With Surf Snowdonia already up and running in the U.K. (though it shut downearlier than forecasted due to technical problems that have since been repaired), another coming next year to Austin, Texas, and many, MANY more worldwide, the Wavegarden aims to bring the joy of surfing to those landlocked far reaches of the globe. And they’re also spearheading surfing’s campaign for an Olympics berth.

But when Kelly Slater released footage of his wave pool project, you couldn’t help but think that the team behind Wavegarden were slouching their heads through the frenzy of social media praise. He seemed to have achieved something the Wavegarden didn’t: a fully barreling wave. And while other competitors have existed for Wavegarden over the years – Webber Wave Pool, Wadi Adventure in Dubai, etc. – Kelly’s law-defying “freak of science” was most likely the biggest blow to date.

However, Wavegarden took the reveal with stride. They want to see the numbers. The facts. The business models. And the sustainability. No matter if the wave looks better, it doesn’t mean that it is better as an overall product.

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We reached out to Wavegarden’s Felip Verger to hear what the company had to say:

Regarding the video from Kelly Slater Wave Co we have nothing to say other that what we saw in the video is a great looking wave. We have followed a strict policy of not commenting about our competitors, no matter who they are or at what stage they are in their developments, because we can only talk about what we know… by this we mean the real data and facts, such as energy consumption, wave frequency, surfers capacity, initial investment, etc, etc. Basically all the info we give on our website about the technical and economic requirements, capacities and characteristics of Wavegarden, and of which we know nothing from our competitors (including Kelly Slater Wave Co).

Verger has a point. Although it’s clearly in the early stages, we know nothing about Kelly Slater’s wave. How much it costs, the environmental impact, or even where exactly it is (however some people have put their social media stalking skills to good use and found a likely location). Wavegarden is a business, mapping everything from how much each wave costs to create (sixty cents) to the estimated revenue the immediate environment surrounding a Wavegarden facility can expect (€3 million annually). Whereas Slater is the billionaire bad boy, the Bruce Wayne, with the ungodly bank statement worthy of making his childhood dreams a reality.

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But it’s hard to argue that Mr. Slater’s Frankenstein of a wave looks inferior. It does not. Then again, it’s also hard to argue that Wavegarden won’t counter attack, sorta like the artificial wave pool world’s version of a poker game, with a new and improved product. They certainly will.

I’ll see your perfect man-made wave and I’ll raise you a barrel…

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