“It’s so big! It’s so deep! It doesn’t look real!” says 1999 world champion Occ.
Right now, like right now, a sturdy contingent of WQS-level Australian pro surfers are swinging their stakes in the Occy and Barton Lynch-endorsed wave pool called Surf Lakes.
The pool had its first official test run yesterday, with Occy and his son Jay riding the opening wave at Occy’s Peak; Barton Lynch rode the A-Frame and got a small barrel on the left.
Other surfers arriving to test the pool include Mitch Crews, Flick Palmateer, Conner O’Leary, Laura Enever, the fantastic super kid Dakoda Walters from Angourie and, possibly, Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison later today.
Surf Lakes is a a full-sized demonstration model located midway between the Queensland towns of Yeppoon and Rockhampton and uses a giant plunger to create waves, unlike the sled-foil combo of the Slater pool and Wavegarden and the air pressure game of American Wave Machines.
“We had our first waves yesterday but we’re not at 100 percent capacity yet. We at around forty percent,” says media director and former Tracks magazine editor Wayne Dart, who says the first waves were two, maybe three foot. “We’re analysing all the numbers, making sure we can get it to full size and not break it, essentially. But, this afternoon, there’ll be waves that are overhead. From an engineering perspective, all the numbers are matching. We’re confident it will handle full-tilt.”
I say to Dart that it sounds a little Apollo mission-esqe, pushing the technology into the unknown, risking catastrophic breakdowns, and so forth.
“Walk around the actual structure and it actually feels like a rocket launcher,” he says.
Dart says the technology, the jumbo plunger, has exceeded expectations.
It’s surreal. You look at the footage and it looks like an artist’s impression. You’ve got trees and mountains in the background and this crystal clear green wave breaking down the line.”
“Mate, it was unbelievable. The thing is mind-blowing. Everything about it. The technology and just the sheer beauty of the backdrop and surrounds. It’s surreal. You look at the footage and it looks like an artist’s impression. You’ve got trees and mountains in the background and this crystal clear green wave breaking down the line.”
Is it a noisy son of a bitch?
“The movement of the plunger is dead silent but there’s engine noise from the generators. In a full commercial model you can configure it so there’s no noise at all. And if you use renewable energy, it’d be silent.”
Has it got a filter or do you not fear the brain-gobbling amoeba?
“We’re chlorinating the water, with pool guys testing it every day so it meets regulations.”
There are four waves in the pool: the A-Frame, Occy’s Peak, a beachbreak-style wave and “further around, a wave that stands up on this ledge and rifles down the line. We’ll get to that one today.”
Footage gets loosed on Monday.
(Watch a short film from earlier this year as the pool neared completion.)