The Believers

Kerry Black: Wave Maker

Dec 1, 2005
Outside Magazine


WITH A LEGENDARY point break off his home in Raglan, New Zealand, Kerry Black has little need for artificial waves. But the 54-year-old Ph.D. oceanographer, who's spent more than 20 years computerizing wave mechanics, is creating a wave pool that could be the biggest development in surfing since the wetsuit. Scheduled for completion in Orlando, Florida, as early as next summer, the Ron Jon Surfpark promises to pump out peaks with the power and shape of natural waves—a major achievement, considering that the hundreds of current wave pools deliver mushy rollers. Black's design has compressed air forcing thousands of gallons of salt water down a 300-foot-long basin with converging sidewalls, which preserve the wave's height (up to eight feet), while steel triangles on the bottom can be adjusted to mimic the reefs under 40 of the world's great breaks. New Jersey–based Surfparks, which licensed the concept, has raised $10 million for the park, while some 4,000 surfers stoked for predictable swells are on a waiting list for annual memberships (up to $2,400). "Surfers will still travel to waves around the world," says Black, "but I reckon the future of the sport is twice as big now."

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