A 'Bodyboard-Friendly' Wave Pool Might Be Opening In 2018

The future of wave pools according to Greg Webber... coming soon to a suburban lot near you (if you live in Queensland, that is). Photo: Greg Webber.

The future of wave pools according to Greg Webber... coming soon to a suburban lot near you (if you live in Queensland, that is). Photo: Greg Webber.

Whether you’re a fan of man-made waves or deem them the death of surfing, there’s no denying the slew of wave pond action the past year has most of us at least wanting to try one out. And thanks to renowned shaper / inventor Greg Webber, Australians might be getting a wave pool of their own in 2018. And if his claims are true, it’ll be better suited to bodyboarding than both Kelly’s wave and The Cove.

A quick rundown: Webber has been researching and championing artificial waves for nearly a decade, with a design of his own long in the works. And now, he’s acquired a backer by the name of Tunnel Vision, who have plans to build the wave pool in Queensland and see Webber’s dream come to life. While Tunnel Vision have yet to begin construction, Webber believes the wave pool should be completed by mid-2018.

We slung the man a few questions on his proposed wave pool – what it’ll look like, whether it’ll be better for bodyboarders and what he thinks of Kelly’s jaw-dropping artificial wave.

MM: So Greg, has Kelly's wave left all other wave pools dead in the water?
GW: Nope. The wave shape in Kelly’s pool is the best so far, but Wavegarden’s The Cove is a commercially viable design, despite the wave height diminishing so fast.

How close is the wave pool to being complete and when can we get some boogers on there?
Hopefully mid-2018.

Where is it proposed to be built?
Stapylton, on the Gold Coast. The developer is called Tunnel Vision but they haven’t started and will not be releasing any video or images until they do their first media release.

What's currently the biggest challenge to making the wave?
Getting funding, which has finally happened.

What’ll set your wave pool apart from, say, Kelly’s?
Our wave goes below sea level, which gives all types of advantages. The main one being the tube is more of a cylinder versus a cone shape. It also means the bottom of the wave has some power to it, which isn’t the case with Kelly’s or Wavegarden. We also have a very high wave rate and can customise the wall of the wave before it breaks, so you don’t need to alter the gradient.

Will it be similar to Kelly’s wave or The Cove in design?
Nope, it’s the looped linear like on our homepage.

There’s rumour that the reason bodyboarders haven’t ridden Slater’s wave is because the WSL are majority shareholders – and as bodyboarding isn’t part of their tour, they’ve shunned it. Do you think there’s any truth to that?
No, not at all. Kelly Slater Wave Co. needs to be commercially viable to have success globally, so they would not want to exclude anyone. They’re just retaining the focus on the best standup surfers in the world to not diffuse the elite aspect in their marketing. If bodyboarders are in the pool, then longboarders will say, “What about us?”, then single fin surfers and SUP’s and even kneeboarders will have a grizzle.

Kelly's wave looks good, but not ideal for bodyboarding. You think your design will be more suited to bodyboarding?
Yes, because we have incredible control over our wave height and wave angle that allows us to makes waves that buckle and draw but in a mechanical way. Can’t say when a body boarder might get in there since I’m not the developer, but I’d be pushing for day one.

Any plans to add something like a wedge to the wave pool down the track?
Our second patent covers the control of all manner of additional waves that can be aligned to intersect with the prime wave. Check the video on the Webber Wave Pools Facebook page for university of Tasmania scale model wave making in the test basin.

A big issue around wave pools is affordability. For example, the current price of places like NLand in Austin is a minimum of $55USD per session? Is it too expensive?
It’ll be well priced since the number of people entering the facility will directly influence the retail and accommodation, so the value to the developer is higher if it’s packed. No point in pricing it so high that people won’t come weekly.

Some purists believe wave pools are the death of surfing. What's your take on that?
Not sure. If we want to bring surfing to the rest of the world as a gift – which surely will help many millions of people to be more stoked or amped or happy than they might have been without waves – then all of us surfers will have to accept the change. Yes, we will lose something but we will be giving something so much bigger.