Making Waves – Popular Science for Curious Surfers

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In mid 2016 under the intense heat of the northern hemisphere sun, we began testing the waves at our second public facility, NLand, in Austin, Texas. The lucky test pilots included a handful of seasoned pros, a couple of frothing grommets, and a bunch of newcomers to the sport.

The silence surrounding the pristine Wavegarden lagoon at the NLand complex is broken by the sound of crashing waves, ranging between 0,5-1,9 m (1,5 -6,2 ft) in height. The crowning achievement is the main waves – known as the Reef Waves – which are high quality waves tailor-made for performance surfing. Breaking in synchronicity on opposing sides of the pier, the Reef Waves stand head high and unfurl for over 30 seconds.

The Reef Waves are complimented by two other distinct breaks.The Bay Waves are perfect for new surfers and children while the Inside Wave is a waist-high powerhouse for all levels of surfers. These breaks provide waves for the full spectrum of NLand’s guests. The massive lagoon, spanning nine football fields and filled 100% with rainwater, is set in a beautiful natural landscape only 10 minutes east of Austin Bergstrom Airport. By any measure, it is an extremely inviting surf spot where overcrowding is not an issue as the park can safely cater for 120 or more surfers, at any one time in the different skill-based surf zones.

The long anticipated opening of NLand on October 7, 2016, falls several months after the one-year anniversary of Surf Snowdonia in North Wales, which, since its opening in 2015, has produced more than 195.000 waves. The accumulated length of these waves equates to a distance of 30.600 km (18.600 miles), which is approximately three quarters the circumference of the earth.

In recent months there has been a lot of talk about man-made waves, which has created some rather high expectations about the future of surfing outside of the ocean. Many media outlets have asked us to participate in this debate, but we have opted to maintain our silence, remaining focused on what we have accomplished and not on what we are theoretically capable of doing.

However, all surfers love the ocean and most like to know why waves are the way they are. So, in this article we share some key design features of the NLand Wavegarden in Austin and we hope you find our thoughts and insights interesting.