Frank Vanleenhove tests largest wavepool in the world

Back and forth to and from California to spend 1 day surfing the world's largest wavepool, a constructed lake in which artificial waves roll on which you can surf.
" They only had to ask me this once" because you never get a chance like this again "

"Surf Ranch" is located in Lemoore , neatly in the middle between Los Angeles and San Francisco, some 150 km from the California coast.
It was 11-time world champion Kelly Slater who, along with some investors, pumped $30million into this project in 2015 with the aim of providing the surfing world with the best man-made artificial waves.
It took years before the final goal was achieved: a variation of five waves running left and right on which advanced surfers could practise, or more to the point: where the final version could one day host world championships and even the Olympic Games.

Frank Vanleenhove:
" For 20 years now, as a passionate surfer, I have been following the evolution of such wavepools. I remember my visit to the very first "wavegarden" in San Sebastian (Spain) in 2003, where you could really surf artificially for the first took more than 10 years before the first commercial pool opened in Wales. It has since been closed because technological developments worldwide have made huge leaps in the meantime. After Wales, I visited Kuala Lumpur, Tenerife, Bristol, Sion...and became so captivated by its success that, when Lakeside Paradise (Flanders' first wakeboard cable park) was started up, I immediately suggested to the municipal council of Knokke-Heist that similar installations should be planned in our area.

Consequently, 2 years ago, the city council gave the go-ahead to make space available to All Waves, a Belgian company looking to establish itself on the international wavepool market. Test waves have recently been running there at the R&D centre in Knokke-Heist and are already being tested by surfers. This is a new system that does not yet exist anywhere, and if the tests prove successful, all Belgian surfers naturally hope that such a wavepool will then be established in Belgium.

Meanwhile, around 10 real wavepools are already open to the public worldwide, while another 60 or so are in the pipeline. Close to home, the first indoor wave pool recently opened in The Hague and in July, a canal wave surf installation will open in the heart of Rotterdam. The whole surfing world is currently watching Abu Dhabi where the second Surf Ranch will open in May, which will soon be the biggest in the world: 900m long, 250m wide with a capacity of 40 surfers.

The Surf Ranch I could surf in is 700 m long and 150 m wide with a capacity of 4 surfers. A kind of train is pulled on rails by cables from one side to the other and, as it were, propels the water forward and upwards through adjustable plates on the side . This, combined with the concrete bottom, in which a reef has been formed, makes for nice waves. You have to be careful though, because the spot where the wave breaks is only 1 m deep, so the slightest mistake can result in an awkward landing and the wave can smash you against the bottom.

Fifteen waves pass through per hour, about every four minutes and taking turns left and right. That time is needed for the water to calm down again so that the next wave is perfectly smooth again. On a wave you surf for 1 minute, which is an eternity compared to most natural surf spots. So each surfer takes 4 waves per hour.
To make everything run quickly, surfers are brought to the right place by Jetski each time, and each time they pass on which type of wave they want to surf.
When one surfer is at work, the three others sit neatly spaced along the entire length to be able to paddle in immediately should a fall occur so that neither wave nor energy is lost.
The pinnacle is when you disappear into the tube, the water tunnel that is made and into which the surfer fits neatly provided he or she uses the right technique, assesses the wave correctly and surfs in the right place.
An added bonus is that the course is illuminated in the evening to allow long surfing sessions.
It was quite an experience and together with all Belgian Surfers I hope that one day a wavepool will be realised in our country, as the North Sea does not provide us with surfable waves every day and you can't keep looking for foreign waves...
Such surf pool also means THE ideal conditions for learning to surf safely, I saw people taking a wave for the first time with an instructor beside them on his board who first helped the beginner straighten up and then gave the right support and direction throughout. Phenomenal, if you know that wave surfing must be just about the most difficult sport there is. This opens up perspectives, I was already very happy and gained another rich experience, well worth that one day."

Surf lessons.
Surfers Paradise has been running its own surf school for 30 years with boards of all sizes and weights and has warm wetsuits. Qualified instructors will first show you around the beach and then guide you on the water. Children are welcome from the age of 5. Individual, duo and family lessons are also offered, while the entire Saturday morning is reserved for group lessons.
Once you have mastered your technique, you will gradually acquire the necessary sea knowledge, your general fitness will improve and you will be able to fully enjoy your session. Everyone who surfs his or her first wave is immediately hooked and paddles towards the next wave !
Taking surf lessons can start from 25€ per hour per person, depending on group size.
Advance booking is necessary and can be made at All further info: