First Continuous Circular Wave Pool Completed - April Fools 2011
This was our April Fools joke from 2011. A lot of people really enjoyed it, and a few people even fell for it! Thanks for all of the emails and for helping to spread the word. You guys are the best fans ever!
The first ever circular wave pool opened for initial testing this week. Contrary to expectations, the facility is not in an area known for its interest in surfing. Rather, the first continuous man made wave can be found in Warsaw, Poland of all places!
The People's Wave Center (translated roughly from "Narody Machaja Strefa"), is the first man made wave of its kind. It is capable of sustaining a 4-6ft wave for indefinite periods. It can even produce barrels that peel without end. This new technology marks a great step forward for the global surfing community.
Over the past few months the surf industry has witnessed a surge of artificial wave interest with the launch of the Wave Garden in Basque Country, Spain; the Wave FolkOla Moviestar in Lima, Peru and the announcement of the Kelly Slater Wave Company. It appears that 2011 will be the year of the man made wave.
The $5 Million project was funded by a Polish entrepreneur, Vladamir Starynkiewicz. A serial entrepreneur and lover of fun, Dr. Starynkiewicz is has previously been involved in the creation of Europe's largest indoor go-kart racing track and the Polish amusement park, Lunaprk, Lodz. He was first introduced to surfing on a trip to Hawaii in 2007 where he became fascinated with the sport. Within a year he began plans for the construction of the People's Wave Center on the site of a former Soviet water treatment facility.
The People's Wave Center is located about 15 miles south of the city adjacent to the Vistula River. The entire facility operates on power generated from the flowing of the river. It is its own self contained power plant.
The circular building that contains the wave is roughly 300ft across, or about the size of a football field. It consists of on outer ring about 50ft wide and an inner viewing & staging area. There are plans to include a restaurant within the inner area where diners can watch the surfers as the eat their meal.
The wave itself is created by a series wedges running on a track underwater. As the wave travels, it breaks starting on the inside of the circle. The wave then bends and continues to break as it travels in a clockwise direction. Image a point break and the way the wave wraps around it. The circular form of the outer ring produces a similar perpetual wrapping. Essentially, the wave will continue peeling and wrapping around the building until the generator is shut off.
SurfScience.com discussed the project Vladamir Starynkiewicz to find out more.
SurfScience: How long has this project been in the works?
Vladamir Starynkiewicz: We have worked on the wave pool project since 2008. It started after a trip to Hawaii where I became enthralled with waves and surfing on them. I decided that I must find a way to bring this back to Poland.
Of course Poland does not have an ocean. We have the Baltic Sea to the north, but there are not many waves and it is very cold. In the winter it can reach between -5*C and -20*C. After I realized it would not be plausible to create a wave machine in the Baltic Sea, I began looking at wave pools.
SurfScience: Why a circular wave pool? How did the idea develop?
Vladamir Starynkiewicz: The idea came from many places, it is not an entirely new one. The question was not if we could do it, but if we could do it well.
A wave is a simple thing. When water moves it creates energy which travels in waves. When the base of that wave comes in contact with something and is slowed, the top will break over it. A wave breaking will continue to break and peel down the line. Once the wave is going, it is easy to maintain.
Our biggest effort was actually in how to develop a perpetual wave that did not cause injury. If there are too many moving objects under water, this can cause a dangerous. We did not want to create a hazard where if a surfer fell off of the wave, they would be hit by a wedge or caught in a gear system. That would not be a feasible system, so the challenge was creating an environment with the desired result but that could also be occupied by a human.
SurfScience: A project of this size must have been expensive, was the funding entirely independent?
Vladamir Starynkiewicz: In total the project cost just over 14 Million Zloty. (*About $5 Million US Dollars) Most of this expense was in research and testing. The upkeep of the facility will be rather inexpensive due to the placement on the Vistula River. The facility has a power plant that generates energy from the flowing of the river. This allows for minimal energy costs. The location is also good because we are very close to the city and the airport. This makes it easier to bring in surfers to test the technology.
SurfScience: Have you been testing with pro surfers? How have the tests gone?
Vladamir Starynkiewicz: Very well. We have been able to get great feedback from surfers. We worked with the French National Surfing Association to bring in many of the local stars. We can produce a wide range of wave sizes from 50cm to 2 meters. We can also control the speed. We worked with the surfers to find the ideal settings for certain types of surfing.
One benefit about the wave is that it can be set for riding on a longboard or a shortboard. We have even been able to produce a continuous barrel about 1 meter tall. In theory we could produce any size wave with this technology. We are only limited because of the size of the building. If the wave is too big, the water will not settle by the time it comes back around and it will become turbulent. To produce smooth waves, the idea height is 1-2 meters.
The team from People's Wave Center uploaded a video of the recent testing. Check it out and get an inside look at the facility. One surfer maintained a barrel ride for over 2 minutes. Probably a new world record!
Stay tuned for more updates from the Paople's Wave Center. They plan to open to the public for Summer 2011. Here's hoping for a Polish stop on the ASP World Tour in 2012. Maybe the Rip Curl Search!
APRIL FOOLS!!! This was our joke article from April 1, 2010. We hope you had a laugh. Now go get some waves and stay tuned, because soon enough, someone will actually build a continuous wave pool. We can't wait!