One of the very earliest wave machines that I know of was installed in a pool in Kilmarnock in Scotland, just after the first world war, this was a mechanical flap device and from what I am told it was designed and built by engineers in a Clydeside ship yard.
Over the following few decades wave machines were very rare devices and it was not until the 1950’s when they seemed to reappear, and strangely, another of these was in Scotland at the Portobello outdoor pool near Edinburgh and again this wave machine was a mechanical system comprising of flaps at the deep end of the pool. At the same time air/pneumatic wave machines first appeared in Europe, and I believe that Germany was the first market where this type of system gained popularity, and it is an evolution of this pneumatic system that can be found in most wave pools today.
In todays market there are the following types of wave machine; Pneumatic, Hydraulic dump and Standing waves
Pneumatic machines are the most common and are found in leisure pools and water parks all over the world. The waves are generated by high pressure air that is used to evacuate water from underwater chambers. The action of the machine displaces the water every 1.25 seconds to set up a rhythmical/resonant wave action in the pool.
Hydraulic dump machines are rare, big and expensive but they are quickly gaining popularity with the growth in surfing and adventure sports. In these machines the wave is created by quickly releasing a very large volume of water into the deep end of the pool, where the water flows over a specially shaped reef to create the wave. The wave height is adjustable for both height & direction and as such is suitable for everyone, from families right through to professional surfers.
Standing waves are a new and fairly recent addition to the industry. In these rides a flow of water is directed along a channel and over a hump (wave form) to generate a wave. On these machines the wave is essentially static with the water flowing beneath the surfers board. This type of machine is great fun and due to their compact nature can be located almost anywhere.
Waves never seem to loose their popularity and we guess that this is because they are such a natural thing, even when generated by air or some other means the end result is the same, waves breaking onto a beach and everyone enjoys this.
Guest blog by Douglas Murphy at Murphy Waves