Surf Lakes has come a Queensland mile since its “soft opening” in October 2018.
Surely you remember the inconsistent if dick-slapping waves and bifurcated plunger that we first encountered in Yeppoon.
Oh how you laughed, you dirty web-crawlers. Laughed and laughed at Occy’s, Barton’s, and Surf Lakes’ expense. “Nice oil rig fuckers.” “Try again Aussies.” “Chernobyl 2.0.”
But then, a year or so back, Yeppoon rose like a cassowary at the sound of a fallen acorn—revealing surfable waves and, if you’re a multi-world-champ booger, a sufficiently heaving tube.
However, there were still improvements to be made. After their testing in August 2019, Surf Lakes did a revamp of the Yeppoon site’s bathymetry.
The slab was re-cut primarily as a right, as its shape requires a backdoor takeoff and is thus not conducive to splitting peaks; however, as Coby Perkovich proved, the left remains plenty rideable.
“Everyone was going right, so I just sat wide off the end and picked off some corners,” Coby told us. “I actually realized that the left stays a bit bigger than the right—it’s less perfect, as it’s not designed with the same taper, but it’s super fun. Some even have a little ramp at the end.
They also made a wedging break with two waves that converge.
“It’s got a decent ramp,” Coby explained. “With an air section, you really want the wave to bend back toward you to create projection. With a little effort, I think they could get this wedge to a good place. Maybe even Stab High worthy.”
But most importantly, Surf Lakes is really starting to dial in the mechanics of its wave-producing system. When we originally visited Yeppoon, they broke the plunger in second gear. Now they’re in fourth, verging on fifth, and the machine is humming.
“We’re currently raising the plunger about 4.5 meters,” said Surf Lakes spokesperson Wayne Dart. “Ultimately, at a commercial-grade facility, we believe 6 meters is achievable. Which means we’re only at 75% capacity right now.”
Yeppoon, if you remember, has always been slated as a Surf Lakes R&D site. But like Slater’s pool in Lemoore, the Surf Lakes crew might not be able to pass up their test site’s commerciality.
“We’ve had two pools commissioned in the States, and we’re looking at potentially building a pool on the Gold Coast.” said Wayne Dart, “But we’ve found it’s difficult to secure the required land permits in certain regions around the world. That’s proven to take much longer than building an actual wave system.”
While their global propagation may be delayed, once these Surf Lakes pools are built, they’ll pump out waves like no other. Remember, there are five breaks total in the pool, each of which provides a right and left with every drop of the plunger. There are typically 3-4 waves per set. That means 30-40 people could ride a wave to themselves every 60 seconds.
This level of output is wholly uncontested in the world of man-made wave systems. And, from what we’ve seen, they’ve got the ability to produce everything from a piddly one-footer to a curling slab all in the same motion.
“That wave is proper heavy,” Coby said. “And it’s not easy, either. Sheldon Simkus broke two boards, and I must have had 30 cracks at the slab and only made 10 of them. At first, I was using a little 5’9 step-down, but I was actually having trouble keeping the nose up so I had to switch to my 6’1 shorty. It’s probably like 12 inches deep where the wave breaks, and it’s a real wave—we all got slammed.”
Finally, we asked Coby—who’s surfed Australia’s two functional wave systems—which pool he preferred.
“I really can’t fault the Surf Lakes pool. It’s not like they’re paying me or anything, it’s just genuinely fun. There’s a ton of waves, they’ve got power, and the whole thing feels really open—pretty much like the ocean. Melbourne was fun too, but you’re just so cramped in that little corner when you’re taking off that it just feels like you’re in a pool.”