The past and present of the future of nature
When I was a kid, and in order to get a volume discount, I bought a box containing 100 bars of Surf Research surf wax. In each bar on the back of the logo paper was the aphorism: “The things you hold on to—hold on to you.” Suffice it to say, 100 bars gives you a good span of time to let words unfold their meaning. It is interesting to see those aspects of my life that still have a “hold” on me.
When people ask what do I do, I usually say that I am a surfer turned inventor. The word ‘invention’ is derived from the Latin in-venire: coming upon, not creating. In other words, I just came upon things that are meant to be just like any adventurous surfer who embarks upon the search. And my search has truly been amazing.
Click HERE to view and/or download Tom’s biography (.pdf)
It all started in my bath-tub back in 1987. Now this tub was not just an ordinary Kohler – it was my custom design, with a picture-window view from La Jolla Cove to Blacks: Flying swan spigot, two outback shower heads, and eight custom Jacuzzi jets turbo’d by a five horsepower pump. Not one to just relax in the lap of luxury, I hooked up a series of hoses to those jets and started squirting water up molded plastic sheets. Voila, the FlowRider® Stage One.
In 1991 I built the first Wave Loch FlowRider in New Braunfels, Texas. But in truth, the FlowRider is not a wave. It may appear wave-like, but hydraulically speaking, that is an illusion. The curl of the FlowBarrel® Ten is in fact a super-critical stream flow. All ‘wave’ energy is swept downstream. The wave-like shape one sees is a function of the orchestration of differing fluid pressure fields against the ramp substructure.
Riding a FlowRider has a closer physical relation to skateboarding a half-pipe with water as a medium, than to surfing a progressive wave breaking obliquely to a beach. In terms of the size of a FlowRider, the sky is the limit, or then again, to that height where the water would vaporize due to friction loss. Practically, I think skateboard ramps are a good indication of feasibility of FlowRiders at the human scale.
With respect to versatility, my goal is to build a ‘Flow Park’ similar to a skate park. Water half pipes are definitely doable, the same with snake runs. It will happen. One is only limited by the self-imposed boundaries of the mind. But at the beginning, we couldn’t even ride.
The body boarders were the first to survive – Mike Stewart, Pat Caldwell, Jay Reale, and Brian Press. Stand-up riding began its quantum leap in 1995 or ’96 when we brought together two skaters, a surfer and a snowboarder (Tony Hawk, Chris Miller, Kelly Slater and Terje Haakonsen). We did a three day experimental design/ride session at the Schlitterbahn in Texas. The riders gave us the feedback and Carl Ekstrom, Al Merrick, Stan Pleskunas and Mickey Munoz were hacking at the boards.
These were exhilarating times. But like any surfer after a good session, we could not resist embarking upon our next adventure. It was fall of ’98. A fateful phone call to Swatch in Switzerland and the gauntlet was thrown…could we make a mobile, 10′ barreling wave? As they say, the rest is history. First there was Munich, followed by Florence, Durban, Long Beach, San Diego, Sydney, Hanover, Manila and Vienna. With an average $1.5 million budget per event, Wave Loch hosted the greatest surf parties of the century. Attesting to the rage were the likes of Kelly Slater, Bruce Irons, Rob Machado, Peter King, Tony Hawk, Andy MacDonald, Terje Haakonsen, Shaun White, Chris Miller, Conan Hayes, Rochelle Ballard, Malia Jones, and the list goes on.
We at Wave Loch™ are passionate about our products. We love to share the stoke with our customers and our end users. This is our commitment to you. Conceived in the shallow reef breaks off La Jolla California, Wave Loch™ (founded in 1991) is the world leader in human generated wave technology. We hold over 100 patents world-wide and have installations spanning the globe. We’re a technology company and a lifestyle company. It’s Wave Loch’s connection to the lifestyle that offers enduring value to your venue. Take the time to understand our product offerings, and how our lifestyle approach can generate reward beyond a financial return. We love what we do and look forward to sharing our passion with you.