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Surf’s Up: Kelly Slater to open a public artificial wave pool in Florida this year

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After building and riding his own man-made wave pool for years, pro surfer Kelly Slater plans on opening the first public pool in Florida

Big-wave surfer Kelly Slater shocked the sports world a little more than a year ago with the creation of the largest man-made wave pool in history — and now he intends on opening the first public facility. Artificial wave pools have long been in the throes of development since the 1970s but the Kelly Slater Wave Company has since revolutionized the industry.

The pro surfer’s personal pool boasts a seven-foot high right-hand barreling wave formed by a hydrofoil mechanism initiated by cables which run taut across the surface. Unlike most artificial waves, this meticulously designed pool effectively emulates the ocean, providing a steep enough face for riders to practice maneuvers along the lip. Slater’s artificial surfing paradise resides on a narrow lake in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California. The project serves not only as Slater’s personal training ground but as a prototype for the professional surfing world. A year’s worth of machinery modifications and testing resulted in a welcome public surprise.

Kelly Slater’s wave pool produces consistently perfect waves

Kelly Slater Wave Company

The Kelly Slater Wave Company recently filed a zoning application with Palm Beach County in the surfer’s home state of Florida. Slater and the company want to implement a wave park into the blueprint of Palm Beach Park of Commerce’s developing industrial zone. Additionally, the team dubbed the project “Surf Ranch Florida” and hopes to bring professional surfing opportunities to the state while maintaining the equally safe and consistent environment offered by artificial surf. World-class recreation is not the only goal, however — establishment of a large-scale wave pool could result in Florida’s first Championship Tour event.

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Slater attempted to open a public wave pool in San Diego last year but after municipal denial, he decided to try for development just two hours south of his hometown of Cocoa Beach, Florida. The Palm Beach County Commission currently plans to hold a hearing for the proposal of Surf Ranch Florida on March 23.