The surfing world is abuzz after world champion Kelly Slater casually took to Instagram on Friday to unveil what he says is, without a doubt, the “best man-made wave ever made.”
“It’s a freak of technology,” Slater said of the wave.
The wave generator, located in a “secret spot” about 110 miles from an undisclosed coast, has been in the works for a while.
As he writes on Instagram, Slater has been “sitting on” his announcement for a couple of weeks.
“For nearly ten years, my team and I have been working on creating the first truly world-class, high-performance, human-made waves,” he writes. “This is something I dreamt about as a kid. Through rigorous science and technology, we’ve been able to design and build what some said was impossible, and many very understandably never thought would actually happen.”
Artificial waves have long been a sort of holy grail for the sport — and business — of surfing. By taking geography out of the equation, everyone from the Midwestern U.S. to the Middle East could experience the sport, providing an obvious boon for market expansion.
The technology also could allow for surfing to finally gain acceptance as an Olympic sport by removing two of the biggest hurdles: ensuring standardized waves and unlocking the ability to host a surfing competition anywhere in the world.
Entrepreneurs have been looking to capitalize on wave-making technology for years now. Slater even tried to open his own wave park in Australia a few years ago.
But until now, surfers have complained that artificial waves don’t live up to the real thing for two very important reasons: they don’t form barrels and they don’t allow progression, which surfers need to get air.
As surfing website The Inertia explains, Slater has tackled both problems, making “a wave worthy of real-life proportions.”
“With a steep face,” the site explains, “Kelly’s wave provides the rider with enough speed for natural above-the-lip maneuvers.”
Aside from the short video documenting the artificial wave, Slater and his team revealed very little about their creation, promising to share more details in the “coming weeks and months.”
“It was an insane day,” Slater said of his test ride. “I’m still a little in disbelief, and trying to process how much fun this wave is, but it certainly feels like this is going to change a lot of perceptions about human-made waves.”
Slater’s announcement comes just one day after he was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Billabong Pipe Masters by Mick Fanning.
Good thing the 43-year-old now has a backyard training tool to prep for the upcoming year.
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