The Concept

Our goal is to create new surf breaks. These breaks will range from beginner’s waves through to high performance surf breaks that are comparable to world-class waves in world class locations. This will be achieved by selecting a location that has clean consistent swell and favorable winds but an unfavorable seabed for good surfing conditions. The site will be enhanced by altering the profile, depth, angle, and orientation of the sea floor to form a surf break.

Over the past 20 years the concept of creating new surfing waves has been proven with the construction of artificial surfing reefs.  However, in almost every case the success has been short lived due to the difficulty of building structures in the surf zone that are stable enough to maintain the design shape for extended periods.  World Wave Project have approached these obstacles from a different direction, removing material from the seabed itself, rather than trying to add material which is unlikely to maintain the configuration it was designed to be. 

Through strategic planning, surf science, environmentally friendly construction techniques, and local government support we will transform a section of coastline to harness the existing wave energy prior at the optimum angle and intensity to maximize its value for surfing. 

The concept in its simplest form is wave engineering.


Wave Engineering is the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to invent, design, build, maintain, research, and improve underwater structures, materials, and processes to produce high quality surfing waves.


Rationale

By nature, surfers travel to explore and find new surfing areas that offer an uncrowded alternative to their local surf experience.  The global surfing population has exploded and as a result the number of quality locations and waves around the world have become more crowded.

Surfers are increasingly looking for ways to travel and explore the world in search of empty, quality waves to escape the crowds. Unfortunately, the total number of empty, quality waves is a limited resource – very rarely do all the important components that make a good surfing break come together naturally.  We invent new ways to cope with this shortage.


Goals

This project aims to provide surfers with new surfing locations through the creation of surf breaks, made by carving, sculpting, growing, shaping, filling, and contouring an under-performing area of seabed into one that produces what many surfers would want to visit.  This will be accomplished by developing sustainable techniques for manipulating the seabed.

This approach can be applied to many areas around the world where a wave is close to being good but could use minor modifications or at locations that receive an abundance of swell but do not have the proper seabed to harness the waves.

Surf Science

We have incorporated the world’s strongest and most experienced
team into the World Wave Project with some team members holding Doctorates in coastal oceanography specializing in surf science and have decades of experience in studying and researching surf breaks to understand how and why they work. Our experts have also studied the impacts of coastal activities on surf breaks.

Our experts have published the vast majority of literature on what makes up surf breaks and the design of submerged structures for coastal protection, marine ecological enhancement and amenity enhancement such as surfing and diving. We are virtually the only group that has worked almost continually on surf break projects for the past 2 decades.

The process of refraction, the bending of waves, changes the direction of waves destined for the shore. This is because wave speed is dependent on water depth, with waves travelling slower in shallower water.  Wave breaking is also dependent on the depth of the water. Therefore the seabed prior to and during wave breaking has a major influence on the form of the breaking wave, with the speed that the waves peels, and then the intensity with which it breaks most important to surfing – waves need to peel and have a steep face in order to surf them.  It is the gradient of the seabed that has the greatest effect on the shape and steepness of the face of a breaking wave. Consequently, understanding and quantifying how peel angle and breaking intensity of surfing waves relates to the seabed is vital to the design of high quality surfing breaks.

We have a database of over 40 world-class surf breaks, which contains the bathymetries (seabed shapes), peel angles and breaking intensities of each break.  The database includes breaks in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Fiji, U.S.A. and Brazil.

Our team additionally has a large amount of experience and expertise in marine ecology.

Objectives

The objective of the project is to develop and create new surf breaks.  This will be achieved by:

  • Selection of a region of interest based on specific criteria (e.g. planning/permitting laws, location and accessibility, seasonality, land-based opportunities/infrastructure
  • Analysis of long-term wave and wind record records
  • Field studies to quantify potential sites within the region of interest that are conducive to surf break creation;
  • Complex computer modeling to iteratively develop a design which will be finalized with scaled physical modeling;
  • Research into construction/remodelling techniques that can be applied at the selected site(s) that are cost-effective and environmentally sustainable and;
  • Undertaken EIA’s and apply for the necessary permits.

Types of Design

Utilizing a proprietary database of over 40 world-class surfing breaks that includes seabed morphology, wave peel angles and wave breaking intensities, we can modify a rock shelf or reef that balances the science behind breaking waves with the art of advanced construction techniques underwater. Two basic examples of potential design include:

  1. Designs that improve existing breaks (i.e. waves break on it)
  2. Offshore structures that cross up and focus swells (i.e. waves break inshore of structure)

The offshore structures lend themselves better to the ‘growing’ aspect.  In both temperate and tropical locations, rather than being able to stimulate growth – putting hard substrate onto featureless seabeds results in local increase in biodiversity; hard, complex, stable structure (i.e. rock reef) provides far more habitat and ecological niches than featureless, mobile, abrasive substrate (i.e. sandy seabed).  In tropical regions, these can be seeded with corals, in temperate regions, they will be quickly colonised by a range for sessile benthic species.

We are striving to develop a range of designs that will cater to all skill levels of surfers, depending on the requirements; the majority of surfers worldwide don’t have the skills to surf pipeline-like waves (e.g. in front of a hotel or resort – soft, slow, small waves close to the beach for beginners and lessons, and a longer, more intense break on the outer reef  for the intermediate to experienced surfers).


Proof of Concept

The first step is to prove this idea can work. The concept of artificial surfing reefs has been proven, however, due to building these structures in the surf zone (rather than working with an existing structure/substrate in this extreme environment), artificial surfing reefs have mostly worked as designed for only a relatively short period following construction because the design shapes have deteriorated over time. The science and information is readily available but it will require a thorough and complete study to affirm our concept will thrive. This stage of the process will:

  • Utilize our existing database of high-quality reefs and proven designs around the world and add to them
  • Include a comprehensive overview of existing surf breaks through field studies
  • Environmental assessment work
  • Numerical modeling – iterative design approach
  • Physical modelling of final design
  • Opportunity to test possible construction techniques and tools, and refine them
  • Creation of a full scale “wave laboratory” to test our designs in a controlled environment 
  • Monitoring – before and after to compare change and categorize the results

Returns

This concept aims to create an entirely new set of technologies and redefine the current limited possibilities of wave formation. We are creating art through physics and science and human ingenuity. Art on a massive scale that lets people enjoy the direct benefits of our efforts instead of enjoying it in a gallery or a museum. Art that has tangible value and invokes the same sensory feelings and emotions that a beautiful painting or prized sculpture can evoke. The coolest part is that our sculptures produce waves with canvases of their own!

Some prime examples of striking a balance between a return on investment and improving the world include:

  • Hired by local or regional governments to improve surfing amenity and create tourism opportunities, as well as local socio-economic benefits
  • Create surfing amenity for existing resorts
  • Partner with existing resorts and resort chains
  • License other people to use our technology and patents
  • Sponsorship Packages
  • Legacy, donations, grants
  • Build nearby resort on land, over the inside section of the wave, even underwater
  • Operate surf charters in close proximity to the wave(s)
  • Income generated from local resorts

Our goal is to find interested parties who share our desire to change the world and leave a legacy that extends beyond the capacity of any individual surfer.  Our methods and research will impact the core definition of today’s perception of what a surf break is.


Pilot Project – Preliminary Process

1. Regional Assessment:

a) Shortlist potential regions 

b) Check the legal framework associated with coastal development (especially with respect to reef disturbance such as navigation channel excavation) and ownership/lease of land.

2. Desktop Investigation – Broad Scale Numerical Modelling of Long-Term Wave Climate

a) Development of regional modeling domains from existing data.

b) Development of long-term wave and wind boundaries (i.e. develop the average annual conditions for the region).

c) Numerical modelling.

d) Analysis and reporting, including consideration of existing and potential breaks with coincident wave/wind analysis and first order suitability coarse scale bathymetry.

3. Steering Group Meeting to Consider the Results and Next Phase

4. Field Investigations

a) Instrument deployment for waves, currents, and water levels.

b) Detailed surveys of existing high-quality breaks in the region and the potential site(s).

c) Ecological Assessment of existing and potential site(s).

d) Drone surveys of peel angles at existing and
 potential site(s).

e) Local meetings with respect to the legalities of environmental impacts and land ownership/lease.

f) Data analysis

5. Design – Iterative Numerical Modelling

a) Bathymetry manipulation to create a surfing break(s) for the site(s).

b) Wave modeling using specific wave conditions based on knowledge of existing breaks in the region.

c) Analyze outputs, modify bathymetry, and re-run
model simulations.

d) Reporting of final design(s).

6. Steering Group Meeting to Consider the Results and Next Phase

7. Physical Modelling

a) Build bathymetry of selected pilot study site as it exists.

b) Test with conditions recorded during field investigations (wave data and drone results); this represents calibration of the physical model.

c) Engineer the new break into the existing bathymetry.

d) Test with normal/average and selected surfing
wave events.

e) Modify the bathymetry (if necessary) to ensure high wave quality.

f) Reporting and drawings/design specifications

8. Undertake EIA – this will be compiled from all of the above.

9. Construct by Applying the Techniques Determined Through the Construction Investigations.


Pilot Project – Construction Investigation

1. Literature and Data Review:

a)  Literature search (online and utilizing the academic search engines) for published papers in the science, products and associated specification documents and projects utilizing the required technology.

b)  Tracking down the various leads and gaining more information and understanding about particular methodologies, techniques, materials and companies that perform the work. This incorporates picking up the phone and following up the leads, since this type of industry does not publish widely.

c)  Compile at SWOT analysis of the potential methods that will be applicable to working underwater in a surf- zone. Some sites may experience wave action all year around, while others may be seasonally calm. It is likely that a combination of techniques will result in a ‘hybrid solution’ for a particular site in a particular region.

2. Site Visits:

a) Readily applicable technology for wave engineering is required, and so techniques considered feasible will be followed by site visits at locations where they have been applied.

b) The observations and discussions from these visits will be compiled and brought into a report that summarizes the findings.

3. Steering Group Meeting to Select the Most Applicable Techniques for Trial

4. In Situ Trials

a) Identify a Trial Site within the Area of interest, or with similar wave exposure and geology

b) Undertake monitored trials that wil quantify the time/cost/volume/etc. required to engineer the final design for the selected site.

5. Steering Group Meeting to Consider Costs and Logistics with respect to Engineering a Wave

Environmental Concerns and Benefits to the Local Economy

  • Utilize strategies to manage the seabed changes
  • Relocate as many plants and animals as possible
  • Environmental initiatives such as using spoil material to create new habitat and developing managed marine protected areas (MPA’s) to protect and enhance the ecological aspects of a site (which can also have additional recreation and commercial benefits through snorkeling and diving)
  • Construction uses accepted environmental techniques. (IE, no bombing reefs etc…)
  • Emphasize the benefits of the completed reef as a new habitat – re-colonization will occur rapidly in some areas. (*Not all  areas will be suitable for this project)
  • Create jobs during the construction process
  • Maintain jobs when the resort or tourist zone opens
  • Generate tax revenue and usage fees for the area
  • The reef can sponsor and support the local village.
  • Establish or partner with a coral restoration initiative to “enhance” our intended purpose. 

Final Thoughts

This concept and its principles have the potential to be the biggest development in surf exploration yet. There are a lot of great waves in the world and a lot of time, energy, and money is being created into making wavepools  but real power and real vision is to fine tune nature’s gifts to our benefit and responsibly create something that has never been done before. Wavepools  will have a significant role in the future of surfing but require massive up-front costs, significant water resources, and significant power to operate. Sculpted/Grown reefs create a legacy that can be enjoyed by a large number of people and that has the potential to help protect the marine environment and educate users to the importance of its health [e.g. the Fijian surf decree protects surf reefs from fishing]. By shaping the rock substrate of the coast, rather than trying to add outside materials that need to withstand the constant assault of the sea, new permanent surfing breaks can be created for performance surfing.

This is not a project where we are looking to construct a rippable 100 yard wave in a pool somewhere and mimic the ocean. Our ultimate goal is to work with the coastal processes and the ocean itself and allow us to generate a resource that is not being utilized which will re-define the core principles behind surfing and surf travel. This is our opportunity to create a surfing utopia and stay ahead of the technological curve in terms of wave creation by utilizing  the art of wave engineering.

We finally have a good enough understanding of wave science and technology to bring this concept to fruition. The team behind this initiative are uniquely qualified and determined to alter the future course of wave riding to make it more enjoyable for everyone.


Send us a message