UT San Diego
A Solana Beach company founded by the great-nephew of San Diego surf legend Charles Wright has created what it says is the world’s largest standing wave machine — producing waves with a 5-foot barrel and a 28-foot face — that will be making its debut this spring in the United States.
Another of the machines will be debuting in Canada’s first indoor surf park this summer.
The company — American Wave Machines, founded by engineer and recreational surfer Bruce McFarland — developed its SurfStream technology in the mid-2000s.
The first SurfStream debuted in 2009 at a resort in Turks & Caicos.
In the years since, several more of the machines, which can be engineered to any size and shape specification, have opened at surf parks, water parks, hotels and resorts around the world, McFarland said.
The patented surf machine allows for authentic surfing on real surfboards with fins, with a water temperature that averages around 82 degrees.
That warm water is likely to be a strong pull when the first SurfStream in the United States opens this spring in Nashua, N.H.
The machine will be the centerpiece of a park called Surf’s Up New Hampshire, an expansion of SkyVenture NH, a massive indoor sky diving venue.
The SurfStream will be indoors in a facility that features a retractable glass roof, glass walls for spectator viewing, surfside lounging and a cafe, McFarland said. Surf’s Up will be the first multisport venue with surfing and sky diving.
When the owners polled their sky diving customers, “they were very enthusiastic about being able to surf after flying,” McFarland said.
McFarland said all the SurfStream machines share a design scheme: The basic platform is a training wave where you can body-board or learn to stand up.
“It’s very easy. It’s a small wave and it’s very stable,” he said. “Level two is what we call the standing wave, it’s kind of like a rapid in a river. The wave jumps up about twice as high and it’s more turbulent and a lot more powerful. You can also have white-water kayaking on that wave.”
The most advanced wave, McFarland said, is a barreling wave that breaks either continuously left or continuously right. The barrel is created by moving modular pieces of different sizes and shapes.
The changes in the waves are created by adjusting a spoiler at the bottom of the machine.
McFarland said the machine is great for learning how to surf and for practicing maneuvers, such as aerials and 360s.
“You can practice the same maneuver as many times as you need to to perfect it,” he said. “It is using real surfboards with fins, so the skills are transferable to ocean surfing.”
American Wave Machines also offers a technology called Perfect Swell, which is essentially a wave pool that you can surf in.
PerfectSwell is an air-powered system that uses computer controls to modulate wave shape, ride duration, frequency and energy efficiency. The waves range from about 2 feet to 7½ feet.
McFarland, who in the 1990s developed sheet-flow wave simulators at Belmont Park and The Wave Waterpark in Vista, said his company’s goal is to open a SurfStream or PerfectSwell in every major city in the U.S.
He said they are working with some developers in California, but nothing is scheduled yet.
Canada’s surf park, called Oasis Surf, will be set in a contemporary surf retail center with a California beach-themed bar and restaurant. It will also include a surf shop featuring surf apparel and custom surfboards.
“(The owner) is creating a place (for customers) to go any time of year,” McFarland said. “In the winter, when it’s so cold up there, it’ll be a pretty warm place where you can go and get in the water and hang out.”
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