Greg Webber Comments On Kelly Slater's Wave Pool
I’ll see your wave pool and show you my own and raise you an artificial reef.
Greg Webber; wave pool aficionado and the guy who also shaped one of Kelly Slater’s Pipeline boards this year, has spoken about the mind-blowing perfect wave Kelly released and what he’s got installed for the new world of surfing.
It’s not just about creating one perfect wave it’s about revolutionizing a sport, creating an infrastructure that will support all surfers and expansion of the industry. It’s about controlling the environment, playing God and getting involved with a natural wonder that is loved and appreciated by most for its randomness and dynamic change. Is it all good or bad? One thing is for sure, this year things have stepped up in the surf world, Slater revealing a wave like this one is definitely a game changer and it’s just the beginning.
Greg Webber has been working on his own wave pool design for some time with various prototype trials keeping the Australian public in anticipation. So Slater beat him to the punch, that’s what happens when you’re the King, right?
What does Webber think about Slater’s wave? “Kelly’s wave is great, the critical thing is, that you have to make a head-high wave that runs for a long period of time, and he did it.” Said Webber of Saturday’s video release. It’s a really complex set of requirements that need to be fulfilled to create such a wave.” Webber questions whether Slater’s wave will be able to have perfection and wave count per hour at a level that will make it a commercial success.
The world-class shaper is stoked, Slater has created the perfect marketing clip, released it to the world and now it’s game on. Webber Wave Pools now has the opportunity to leverage Slater’s real-life demonstration of human-made perfect wave. “The argument I’ve had to come up with (when talking to financial backers) is that it’s actually do-able. Now it’s out there, a real, working, effective prototype, it saves me from having to explain to people from a scientific point of view, that a 2-metre perfect, tubing barrel is possible.”
While Slater had been busily preparing his prototype technology (estimated over $2 million) Webber has been equally as busy perfecting his business model and design, fine-tuning the precise engineering and production of his wave pool as he waits for an investor to push it over the line.
With Slater the process has been a lot easier, obviously. He’s had the backing to be able to pull together a damn fine prototype that broke the internet on the weekend. He’s been working on wave pools and artificial wave generation for 10 years, working with the best of the best and he has produced something that not only looks amazing but is a perfect challenge for an advanced surfer. Here lies the limitation in taking it to the world. No doubt, Slater’s wave pool team already have this sorted.
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“To put an average surfer on that tube will be interesting because it’s a really advanced wave. It’s not an idiot-proof tube and the way Slater surfed it was great but you could tell it was still challenging in sections.” Webber believes that the business model must include waves for every level of surfer to maximize it’s potential and expand across the world.
Existing wave pools just haven’t hit the mark with average waves that just weren’t blowing people away. “More than anything, you have to fulfill the best surfers in the world so you can hold events in it and justify its existence and expansion.” Said Webber.
The Webber Wave Pool designs include consecutive 15-second waves that are controlled and changed through sensitive software. An operator will simply be able to change the wave type one after the other as all levels of surfers queue up to catch their ideal ride. The Webber waves will be perfect, adaptable and will have no wait time.
“If we can make this amazing wave all the corresponding industries want to be part of, similar to golf resorts and destination, then wave pools will be everywhere. They will be a water park, but better. The modeling has already been done. The thing that surfing has is a sexier side and everyone from kids to older people will pay the money to be there.”
What about the Olympics? The wave pool with a consistent, world class, perfect, peeling pipe provides the optimum opportunity to thrust the sport into a new realm. It’s already being talked about for Tokyo, but if not, then we’re sure to see it in the next decade. “The opportunity for the Olympics to get hold of the sport is irresistible. Tokyo want to run it, set up as a luxury beach resort scene and utilize the ‘cool’ aspect while providing a fair surf contest.” Said Webber. “The Games will fade if they don’t start bringing in the extreme sports and the youth market. A broader group of people is the key to their survival.”
If Slater’s wave pool and surfing in the Olympics isn’t enough for you to digest, then there’s this… Greg Webber has been working for 20 years on an artificial reef. It’s a removable, floating system that pivots on one central pillar anchored to the seafloor. The best bit is that every swell direction is the right one and “if conditions are clean and offshore each wave will look just like Slater’s wave pool wave,” Webber says with confidence. “It will always point in the right direction to point straight into the swell and moves up and down with the tides.” Maybe there is hope for crowd relief at the hectic point breaks in the future…
Video above: Greg Webber talks about the engineering of machine-generated waves.
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