THE NEW WAVE

posted by / News / April 15, 2003

Tucked away inside a secret warehouse near Galveston, TX, a team of surfers, engineers and inventors is fine-tuning a wave pool that just might hold the key to a faster, meatier breed of manmade waves.Granted, artificial waves — and their accompanying overhyped pledge that they’re as good as the real thing — are as new as single fins. Few, if any, of the space-age variety have lived up to expectations, instead leaving most surfers with the feeling that despite the crystalline water, chlorine-induced stoke just isn’t quite the same.But along the Gulf Coast of Texas — where you can sometimes count on one hand the number of days of surf in a month — surfers have been finding ingenious ways to keep charged for years.Texan James Fulbright — surf shop owner, surfboard shaper and a man who has been known to ride waves produced by passing tankers in Galveston Bay — was determined to come up with a way to surf more without having to travel across the country or world to do it.Fulbright was convinced the answer for surf-starved surfers everywhere, whether they live in wave-challenged Texas or landlocked Kansas, was Wave Cannons. Invented by Virginia Beach surfers Richard Carnahan and Troy Knight, Wave Cannons are unique because they shoot water out of long cylindrical tubes using compressed air. The length and diameter of the tubes determine the size and speed of the resulting waves, which Fulbright said reach into the 5 to 7 foot range and peel for up to {{{90}}} yards.

“The unique thing about Wave Cannon technology is its simplicity and efficiency,” Fulbright said. “Instead of using a toilet-flush method of creating a wave, it generates an underwater inertia, something of the likes of a mini-tsunami. Our studies are focusing on allowing that underwater energy to continue to travel as far as possible, while just sheering off energy along the edges of the swell as it travels along a curved reef or shoal. The net result is a point-break style wave and a longer ride.”Fulbright and his team of fellow Texan surfers, including Aercor composite fin pioneer Donn Leva, have been tooling away for months as they build a scale model of the pool. The plan is to re-create it at full size as the main attraction at Surf City Texas, a wave park that will sell country club-style memberships to surfers and open up the thrill of wave-riding to both the coastal dwelling and inland masses. Stay tuned for more updates from the Lone Star state. – Stephen Hadley/Gulf Coast Surf

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