The History of Wave Loch
Some call Tom Lochtefeld “The Wizard of Big Rock” as the California surf-trepeneur spent the first years of his life riding in the tube at the famous La Jolla surf break – and the rest of his life working to re-create that thrill and export it to the world. Wave Loch goes back to the early 1980s, when real estate attorney Lochtefeld was a partner in the development of Raging Waters water parks in San Dimas, San Jose and Salt Lake City. Lochtefeld had a vision of creating water park attractions that were as exciting as riding waves in the ocean, and he sold his home in La Jolla and invested three years in building a new kind of wave machine to prove it. In 1988, a patent application described “A wave-forming generator for generating inclined surfaces on a contained body of water.” This was the new idea – the sheet wave. Rather than pulse a rapidly deteriorating wave of energy through big pools of water , Lochtefeld’s “new wave” flowed water over a stationary surface, re-creating the speed and challenge of ocean waves in an enclosed system measured in square feet, not acre feet.
Lochtefeld worked with Charles Sauerbier, Carl Ekstrom and others to model the wave using wave tanks at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla. The first Wave Loch FlowRider® opened at the Schlitterbahn, in Texas in 1991. In 1993, Lochtefeld built a larger, curling FlowBarrel® sheet wave at the Summerland resort in Bo, Norway. Through the 1990s, Kelly Slater, Terje Haakonsen, Tony Hawk and some of the best board-riders in the world worked with Lochtefeld to figure out what were the best boards and techniques to ride the sheet waves. The FlowBarrel was featured in Escape From L.A, a Midnight Oil music video and Surfer Magazine. In 1999, Wave Loch built a portable FlowBarrel which was shipped around the world to support the SWATCH and Siemens Wave Tours, which visited Florence, Munich, Australia and a dozen other places – introducing the art of flowboarding to the world.
Wave House South Africa opened in 2001 with a double FlowBarrel called the D Rex, and two FlowRider Singles at the center of an entertainment, retail and food and beverage complex that proved to be a big success – and the model for many more Wave Houses to come. In 2005, Wave House San Diego opened at the northwest corner of the Belmont Park amusement area in San Diego – and that is where Wave Loch is headquartered, innovating new kinds of waves and bringing the fun and challenge of riding waves to anywhere in the world. By 2009, Wave Loch had sold more than 100 FlowRider sheet waves to locations around the world. There were Wave Houses up and running in Durban, San Diego and Santiago, Chile, with Singapore and Zaragoza under construction, and interest flowing in from around the world. And Tom Lochtefeld bought his house back and now lives overlooking Windansea Beach, with a view up to his beloved Big Rock.