Artificial wave

Last updated

Artificial waves are human-made waves usually created on a specially designed surface or in a pool.


Making waves

Surface waves can be created by any moving object displacing fluid: turbine blades, paddles, a hand, a flung stone, etc. Each pulse of water (or crest) pushed outward from the disturbance leaves a space (or trough) behind it which causes another, smaller pulse to follow: thus a thrown stone's single impact causes a series of ripples. Larger waves can be built up if a series of movements are timed to reinforce waves' motion, much like a person sliding back and forth in a bathtub. Boundaries and obstacles also shape waves by concentrating or dissipating some of the wave's energy.

When fluid flows over a surface which diverts it upward, this flow can rise above the rest of the fluid in a standing wave which remains in one place while the flow lasts. An example of a natural standing wave may be found in swift-flowing streams, downstream from a boulder in the stream bed.

Artificial reefs can also be placed into natural wave environments to enhance the quality of the incoming breaking wave for surfing. Wave focusing areas can build up wave power and height prior to breaking, and breaking surfaces then trip the wave up to make it break; the surfing surface then carries the breaking wave along an angle that maximises its value for surfing.


In a wave pool water is pushed out of an opening with enough force to create a wave-like shape. Riders can ride this type of wave on a regular surfboard.

Wave pools go as far back as the 19th Century, as famous fantasy castle builder King Ludwig of Bavaria electrified a lake to create breaking waves. In 1929, a Pathe Pictorial there is film of "Indoor Surfers" frolicking in small, artificially-generated waves in a swimming pool in Munich, Germany.

The waves were created by agitators which pushed waves through the diving area and into a shallow area - where kids were bodysurfing little waves: "This is the new kind of swimming bath that is becoming the rage of Germany," one of the captions reads. "No more placid waters for bathers - the mechanism behind the netting keeps everything moving."

In 1939, a public swimming pool in Wembley, England was equipped with machines that created wavelets. Not for riding, but to approximate the soothing ebb and flowing motion of the ocean.

Artificial waves created on a designed surface, by water shot over the surface at a high speed to create a wave, are ridden with a short board about the length of a wakeboard. With wakesurfing, which is derived from wakeboarding, it is possible to surf a wave created by a boat without being strapped on to the board and without being towed by a rope. With wakeboarding, the rider is strapped on to the board to prevent the board from flying out under the rider's feet and the rider is towed by a rope without surfing a wave.

The "standing wave" or "sheet wave" type of artificial wave was developed in the 1980s by American real estate attorney Tom Lochtefeld who was a partner in the development of Raging Waters water parks in San Dimas, San Jose and Salt Lake City.

A surfer from La Jolla, Lochtefeld had a vision of creating water park attractions that were as exciting as riding waves in the ocean, and in 1988 he patented "A wave-forming generator for generating inclined surfaces on a contained body of water."

The untechnical, proprietary term is "sheet wave." Rather than pulse a rapidly deteriorating wave of energy through big pools of water, Lochtefeld’s "new wave" flowed water over a stationary surface - in an enclosed, transportable area measured in square feet, not acre feet.

The first Wave Loch FlowRider opened at the Schlitterbahn, in Texas in 1991. In 1993, Lochtefeld built a larger, curling FlowBarrel sheet wave at the Summerland resort in Bo, Norway.

The first barreling wave pool ever open to the public was developed by Lochtefeld’s Wave House restaurant and music lifestyle centers. The first Wave House opened in Durban, South Africa in 2001, and followed by San Diego, CA (2005), Santiago Chile (2008), and Singapore (2009).

WaveLoch company has sold hundreds of FlowRider sheet wave machines around the world - from water parks to Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Dr Peter Killen was the first to develop a continuously breaking, oblique, stationary wave for the study of wave riding. The work was published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics in 1976.

See also

Related Research Articles

Surfing Sport of riding waves

Surfing is a surface water sport in which an individual, a surfer, uses a board to ride on the forward section, or face, of a moving wave of water, which usually carries the surfer towards the shore. Waves suitable for surfing are primarily found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or rivers in the form of a standing wave or tidal bore.

Boardsports are sports that are played with some sort of board as the primary equipment. These sports take place on a variety of terrain, from paved flat-ground and snow-covered hills to water and air. Most boardsports are considered action sports or extreme sports, and thus often appeal to youth. A large proportion of youth partaking in these sports, together with aesthetic damage to property from sports like skateboarding, has led to many board sports being marginalized by the greater world of sports in the past. However, many board sports are ever-more frequently gaining mainstream recognition, and with this recognition have enjoyed wider broadcast, sponsorship and inclusion in institutional sporting events, including the Olympic Games.

Wake Region of recirculating flow immediately behind or downstream of a moving or stationary solid body

In fluid dynamics, a wake may either be:

Laird Hamilton

Laird John Hamilton is an American big-wave surfer, co-inventor of tow-in surfing, and an occasional fashion and action-sports model. He is married to Gabrielle Reece, a professional volleyball player, television personality, and model.

Wild Wadi Water Park

The Wild Wadi Water Park is an outdoor water park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Situated in the area of Jumeirah, next to the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the water park is operated by Jumeirah International, a Dubai-based hotelier.

Wave pool

A wave pool is a swimming pool in which there are artificially generated, reasonably large waves, similar to those of the ocean. Wave pools are often a major feature of water parks, both indoors and outdoors, as well as some leisure centres.

Rash guard Stretch garment for protection from abrasion, UV and stings

A rash guard, also known as rash vest or rashie, is an athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester. The name rash guard reflects the fact that the shirt protects the wearer against rashes caused by abrasion, or by sunburn from extended exposure to the sun.


Wakesurfing is a water sport in which a rider trails behind a boat, riding the boat's wake without being directly pulled by the boat. After getting up on the wake, typically by use of a tow rope, the wakesurfers will drop the rope, and ride the steep face below the wave's peak in a fashion reminiscent of surfing. Wakesurfers generally use special boards, designed specifically for wakes.

The riding of waves has likely existed since humans began swimming in the ocean. In this sense, bodysurfing is the oldest type of wave-catching. Archaeological evidence suggests that ancient cultures of Peru surfed on reed watercraft for fishing and recreation up to five thousand years ago. Standing up on what is now called a surfboard is a relatively recent innovation developed by the Polynesians. The influences for modern surfing can be directly traced to the surfers of pre-contact Hawaii.

River surfing

River surfing is the sport of surfing either standing waves, tidal bores or upstream waves in rivers. Claims for its origins include a 1955 ride of 2.4 km (1.5 mi) along the tidal bore of the River Severn.


Flowriding is a late-20th century alternative boardsport incorporating elements of surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, skimboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding. Flowriding takes place on an artificial wave called the FlowRider or the FlowBarrel. These waves were created by Wave Loch.

Surf break A permanent obstruction on the seabed which causes waves to break

A surf break is a permanent obstruction such as a coral reef, rock, shoal, or headland that causes a wave to break, forming a barreling wave or other wave that can be surfed, before it eventually collapses. The topography of the seabed determines the shape of the wave and type of break. Since shoals can change size and location, affecting the break, it takes commitment and skill to find good breaks. Some surf breaks are quite dangerous, since the surfer can collide with a reef or rocks below the water.

Surfboard fin

A surfboard fin or skeg is a hydrofoil mounted at the tail of a surfboard or similar board to improve directional stability and control through foot-steering. Fins can provide lateral lift opposed to the water and stabilize the board's trajectory, allowing the surfer to control direction by varying their side-to-side weight distribution. The introduction of fins in the 1930s revolutionized surfing and board design. Surfboard fins may be arrayed in different numbers and configurations, and many different shapes, sizes, and materials are and have been made and used.

Wave Loch

Wave Loch Inc. is a surf ride manufacturing company responsible for such water rides as the FlowBarrel, Flying Reef, SurfPool, Wave House franchises, and, formerly, FlowRider.

Glossary of surfing Vocabulary used to describe various aspects of the sport of surfing

This glossary of surfing includes some of the extensive vocabulary used to describe various aspects of the sport of surfing as described in literature on the subject. In some cases terms have spread to a wider cultural use. These terms were originally coined by people who were directly involved in the sport of surfing.

Master Blaster is a type of uphill water coaster at Schlitterbahn New Braunfels Waterpark in Texas, USA. Master Blaster opened in 1996 in the Schlitterbahn East section of the park as the anchor attraction to a second themed area called Blastenhoff. The ride is 65 feet tall and 1,100 feet long.

Horse surfing is an extreme sport invented in 2005. It requires two people, a horse, and a board. Horse surfing involves one person riding either a kite-board, surfboard, wake-board, or skim-board, while being towed behind a horse, ridden by a second person, through shallow water, at speeds up to 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). After originating in England the first official horse surfing competition was held in 2006 in La Baule, France, and over the last 14 years the sport has continued to spread internationally. Today there are several international competitions with globally established rules and categories.