In 2007, Kelly Slater, a man who many consider to be the most talented surfer ever, founded The Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC).
Many surfers have dreamed of surfing the "perfect wave"; Kelly Slater wanted to manufacture it, and in the years that followed, he invested millions of dollars and countless hours into doing just that.
Nearly a decade later, Slater opened the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, and a legend was born.
As many had anticipated and hoped, the greatest surfer of the modern age had succeeded in creating the biggest and best wave pool in the world.
Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch
In 2016, the World Surf League (WSL) acquired a majority stake in the Kelly Slater Wave Company and held a test event at the Surf Ranch, inviting 300 of the world's best surfers (including Mick Fanning, Carissa Moore, and Gabriel Medina) to test Slater's Surf Ranch for themselves.
The WSL Founders Cup was also held there, and before long, the Surf Ranch had earned a reputation as the most advanced wave pool in the world, with many surfers eager to experience the man-made waves for themselves.
Can I Surf at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch?
Although the Surf Ranch has only been around for a few years, it's already the dream of many amateurs to surf there.
They will have to wait though (or earn professional status) because the Surf Ranch isn't open to the public.
Tickets for the WSL Founders Cup, which was held at the ranch shortly after it opened, ranged from around $100 to several thousand dollars, and that's just to spectate.
If you actually want to participate, you could be looking at a charge of nearly $10,000.
After all, we're talking about a facility that is thought to have cost over $30 million to build and one that uses state-of-the-art wave pool technology.
It's not your average wave pool!
What Technology Does It Use?
Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch is separated into performance sections and barrel sections.
The waves are formed with help from a large hydrofoil that is dragged across the length of the pool to create the swells.
The underside of the pool has also been carefully constructed to replicate some of the best reefs in the world and create the perfect waves.
The movement creates oscillation, which is controlled using dampeners that prevent the water from bouncing straight back into the wave.
What Does the Future Hold?
The Lemoore Surf Ranch offers the pinnacle of man-made waves and the excitement surrounding its construction led the Kelly Slater Wave Company to consider other options.
West Palm Beach in Florida was one of the destinations chosen for a future wave pool and hopes were high for this project, but it ultimately fell through and the WSL eventually pulled the plug.
There have been talks of similar wave pools being constructed all over the world, including in France and Australia, but these have yet to materialize.
It's likely that we'll see another project in the United States within the next few years, but wave pools as complex as the Surf Ranch are not the sort of thing that spring-up overnight, so movement will likely be very slow for the foreseeable future.