How about we meet the intellectual muscle behind the tank? A Jamaican! Adam Fincham!
Earlier today, it was revealed the WSL had bitten off a majority slice of Kelly Slater Wave Co, something Chas Smith wrote about four months previously.
Bloomberg Businessweek, who have an inside track with Slater and the WSL (which knifes me to write ’cause Kelly and I’ve been on a similar trajectory in surf for the past twenty something years, although his forward, mine backward, and you’d think there was a little residual love there) announced the reveal with a history of the pool.
Who’s the brains behind the joint? A Jamaican!
Adam Fincham was a research professor from the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, at the University of Southern California, when Kelly came knocking in 2006, swinging his idea of a barrelling man-made wave.
Fincham had worked mostly in Europe and didn’t know who Slater was. But Fincham “pulled together a team of colleagues and undertook a pilot study in 2007. They decided that, yes, it was possible.”
Two years later, Fincham was director for science at KSWC, working out of a lab in Culver City, just of out of LA, and using a 1/15th model scale for testing.
In 2014, KSWC bought a hunk of land in dusty old Lemoore, a hundred miles or so inland, to test the concept. Why Lemoore? It’s cheap. Half-a-mill for twenty acres.
And, then, the testing, the visiting pros, the visit by the WSL’s Kieren Perrow who said, “I think every surfer at some point has probably dreamt of having a wave like this… People have been trying to achieve this for a long time. I wasn’t sure I would ever see it.”
In the Bloomberg story, its writer Josh Dean describes the pool in a way that’s not obvious from the clips we’ve been drip-fed.
“If you watch any of the videos, shot exclusively by KSWC-sanctiond personnel, they’re carefully cropped so as not to reveal much of a hulking, whirring ram as it’s dragged along a rail under the water. (The hydrofoil is separated from surfers by netting.)… (Kelly) slips into the water and paddles out to the middle of the lake as a cable that runs the length of the hydrofoil housing goes taut, sounding as if someone is whizzing along zipline. Then, in the distance, it begins. A head-high swell rises up suddenly and grows in size as the hydrofoil gains speed. Slater glances back over his shoulder and paddles fast, matching his speed to the wave’s and, as the swell hits the point which the lake’s bottom – by depth and contour – forces it to break, Slater is up, tucking into a barrel that curls perfectly and never breaks…
“The wave is more powerful in person than on film, without question. Slater makes it look easy, but even he wasn’t prepared for the speed; back in December, he missed his first puddle. Another pro, he says, fell on his first three attempts.”
A quote buried in the story is instructive about the WSL’s intentions, now that it owns the majority slice.
“We will always have a majority of the surf contests take place in the ocean,” says WSL CEO Paul Speaker.
For another kick, watch as the Today show visits the pool! The shot of the reporter, Nat Morales, doing a piece to camera on a jetski while Kelly surfs in the background, gives the viewer a revealing view of the shape of the pool’s wave.