In the world of surfing, Kelly Slater needs no introduction. He’s arguably the best and most popular surfer in the world. His list of accomplishments is pretty long, but perhaps one of his greatest contributions to the surfing world is his wave pool, which opened just south of Fresno, California in 2016.
Slater’s company, the Kelly Slater Wave Company, worked to incorporate cutting-edge science and state-of-the-art design to create the longest man-made and ridable wave on the planet. While being able to ride a long, man-made wave is impressive, what really sets Slater’s wave apart from other pools throughout the world is the fact that the wave is a perfect open barrel. That feat is accomplished thanks to the engineering that went into the design. In most other wave pools, the waves are generated by using hydraulics. Kelly Slater’s pool uses a hydrofoil, which perfectly duplicates the kind of waves found in nature.
The wave pool project took nearly ten years to complete, and now its home to sanctioned surf competitions. The waves can be adjusted to fit a variety of skill levels, from beginner to advanced, and the waves themselves can reach up to 6.5 feet high. The lake itself is 2,000 feet long and 500 feet wide. The hydrofoils use that distance to generate swells and they break with the help of artificial reefs that have been built into the lake’s bottom contour.
The plan is to build more “Surf Ranches,” with an estimated cost of up to 20 million dollars per facility, depending on how big the actual ranch will be. Plans are in place to expand the current site to an eventual 155 acres, complete with two wave pools open to the public and a number of additional amenities and facilities on site. Visitors will not only be able to surf the pools, but they’ll also be able to receive surfing lessons and compete in multiple tournaments throughout the year.
While the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch isn’t yet open to the public, the expanded, full-scale facility is expected to be completed by 2026.