FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – SURFSTREAM®
What makes SurfStream® unique?
SurfStream® is the ONLY patented surf machine in the world that provides authentic surfing on real surfboards with fins. SurfStream® is the ONLY machine that delivers multiple wave types in ONE MACHINE. Riders can practice skills that are directly transferable to the ocean. With deeper water that moves at natural speeds, SurfStream® can support multiple riders – this means greater throughput and more fun for everyone.
How big are the waves?
Waves can be engineered to any size and shape specification. Typically, waterpark/resort waves are in the 2-3’ range and surf park waves are in the 3’-6’ range. Size and cost are related, but surfability is a quality of every SurfStream® wave.
How many people can ride at a time?
Even the smallest SurfStream® can support up to 5 riders at once. We don’t designate a “single” or a “double” because ALL SurfStream® models can accommodate multiple riders.
How much space is required? How big is the machine?
The smallest footprint is about 22’ x 65’ or 1,430 square feet including minimum deck space. Larger units are up to 40’ x 80’ or 3,200 square feet. There is no limit on size; the tradeoff is power and cost.
What about the cost?
The system is highly engineered including molded fiberglass, stainless steel weldments, industrial controls, and infrastructure scale pumps. Think strength, safety, and durability at a fair price. Prices range from $500K to $3M depending on system specification. Call AWM to discuss your project goals and determine the best system for your venue.
Besides the cost of equipment, what other costs do I need to consider?
There are many other considerations in building a surf park. Click here for more details on planning your venue.
What type of maintenance is required?
SurfStream® is designed to have the minimum amount of maintenance possible. The amount of “soft” materials has been minimized. Soft materials stretch and wear out. Our molded fiberglass is the industry standard material for long life and low maintenance. Boards and other gear are heavily used and need occasional replacement. Water quality must also be maintained with typical pool cleaning and chemical balancing.
Is it safe?
SurfStream® can be adjusted and operated to provide a high degree of safety for almost anyone with or without padding or helmets. Slow water speeds and a deep cushion of water are keys to safety as well as trained operators. Skill needs to increase with wave size and speed for safety. Similar to skate parks, municipal SurfStream® installations often require helmets be worn for stand up surfing (not required for bodyboarding).
Does use of helmets mean SurfStream® is unsafe?
Helmet use on SurfStream® is optional and is typically at the discretion of the operator and/or rider. Use of helmets does not mean SurfStream® is unsafe. Quite the opposite. The naturally slower water speeds make use of helmets an option, whereas use of helmets on high speed sheet flow machines is a concern because of increased forces on the neck. There are documented neck injuries on high speed sheet flow machines even without use of a helmet.
Does addition of padding make sheet flow or surf machines safe?
While no action sports activity is completely safe, addition of padding can create cushioning and a little comfort. SurfStream®’s naturally deep stream of water is the best cushion in nature. Padding can provide a false sense of security and head injuries have occurred on padded sheet flow machines. Padding is an option on SurfStream® but so far no customer has needed it.
Is this wave like a river wave?
River waves come in an infinite variety. The variety potential of SurfStream® waves is finite, but growing. Some are very similar to certain types of river waves. The primary commonality is the constant stream of water allowing quick learning and long rides.
Would this work in a retail store?
Absolutely. The compact footprint that delivers real surfing and allows for use of real surfing equipment makes SurfStream® perfect for attracting customers in a competitive retail marketplace.
Can the waves be mobile?
We can build any type of mobile surf machine or wave machine desired. AWM is the only engineering team that has designed and engineered a patented mobile surf machine.
What does the future look like for AWM?
You can count on AWM to continue to create innovative and cutting edge wave technology.
Q & A with Bruce McFarland, President & Founder, American Wave Machines, Inc.
Could you give a basic explanation of the technology?
The technology originated with multiple shapes put into a stream of water to make a standing wave pop up. This is basically the same phenomenon as a big rapid in a river. You ride it facing upstream. The wave doesn’t move position, so you can ride endlessly. The technology has made jumps now to create about five different types of waves in the same system. By controlling the water and our stream channel we can make very stable beginner waves, very natural standing waves which are deeper and more challenging, and the ultimate barreling waves – rights, lefts, or both at once.
What did you set out to design – did you want to create an experience where you could use a real surfboard?
Yes. I’ve surfed for 40 years. I like it. It’s really fun. The coasts of many countries are now fully saturated with surfers at the surf spots.
Riding SurfStream® on a real surfboard provides a huge part of the fun and skill progression that you get surfing in the ocean. I was confident that the quality of the experience on our artificial waves using our technology would be appreciated by those seeking to offer surfing in a business venue environment, whether it’s a resort, waterpark, or surf park. This has turned out to be exactly the case. It took our combination of engineering and surfing experience to get it right.
Is it easier to learn to surf on this than in the sea?
Yes. The standing up and riding part is much easier on SurfStream®. The beginner can focus on foot placement and balance immediately and rapidly get the feeling of gliding over water on a surfboard.
Surfing in the sea is great, but requires many skills to be learned prior to being able to surf. Ocean based surf schools are also seeing congestion and limited venue opportunities due to their popularity.
What are the differences between PerfectSwell® and SurfStream®?
Very simply, PerfectSwell® is a patented travelling wave generator, as is common in waterparks and more generically called “wave pools” or “surf pools”. The wave is created at one end and travels and breaks in the pool. PerfectSwell® mimics an authentic ocean environment.
Surfers and bodyboarders must learn to paddle in and pop up. Length of ride is determined in part by the length of the pool. Though wave generators have many old and some new developments we discovered that the fundamental property of ocean waves was missing in the technology of all the current suppliers. It’s like the difference between a tidal bore wave and a wind generated wave. Wind generated waves are what we surf on in the ocean. We invented a wind over water “horn” alongside our submerged PerfectSwell® generator which is on permanent operating display at Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in Southern California. When we developed the idea in larger scale we found that the quality of wave in the pool improved dramatically without increasing the cost profiles of the equipment or the pool. We can make good waves in systems without as much power and cost as the common systems. Like SurfStream® the product has been developed to provide all sorts of conditions with the same system.
SurfStream®, on the other hand is an endless standing wave made by continuously pumping water in a recirculating pool and channel system. It has a much smaller footprint and ride length is not limited by pool size. It’s great for a dedicated surfing and bodyboarding system. We can also tune it for kayaking, wake boarding, and even as a SUP ‘treadmill’.
Where do you see the company going?
It’s important to “live the life” of surfing and not just sell it. I think our near term goal is to get a US surf venue online that’s a great place to hang out, and profit from. Of course, a chain of worldwide surf and water sports parks numbering in the hundreds or even thousands is not unrealistic. Surfing in the Olympics? Why not.