Tom Lochtefeld 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.
Human-generated Waves at Scripps and Hollywood
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 Bø, 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.
The World Meets Wave House®
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, nearby Wave Loch’s headquarters, 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 Mallorca, San Diego, Santiago, Singapore, and China under construction, with 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.
Bringing The Oceans Inland
But for Tom Lochtefeld, the wild success of FlowRider®, FlowBarrel® and Wave House didn’t stop his quest for the ultimate wave to bring the oceans inland. Lochtefeld still dreamed of bringing real ocean waves inland. In 1997, he patented his first hull-based design for a surfing wave pool, and began experimenting with different ways to achieve perfect ocean waves, patenting a variety of technologies. But just as no wine is released before it is properly aged, Tom was determined not to debut his new technology until it had been thoroughly tested, calibrated, modelled and proved.
A New Attraction
In 2014 he debuted SurfLoch SurfPool™ at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions annual trade show (IAAPA), to rave reviews. Not long thereafter, projects were announced for Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Bristol, U.K. The time for the SurfLoch SurfPool™ had arrived. Today, Wave House is built around a centerpiece attraction of SurfLoch SurfPool™, FlowBarrel®, or both! And Lochtefeld now dreams of his latest invention being a training ground for the Olympics.