Dion Agius spends most of his waking hours traveling to the world’s best surf breaks, and up until a few months ago the charismatic pro surfer who’s originally from Tasmania, Australia, figured he’d pretty much seen them all. But during a recent trip through Europe, he was enamored by rumors of a new surfing mecca being built in the middle of the Dubai desert. Allegedly financed by a wealthy sheik, the star attraction of this idyllic oasis had allegedly just been completed: a state-of-the-art man-made surfing pool. After confirming it actually existed he knew a pilgrimage was in order.
It didn’t take much for Agius to convince his buddy, renowned surf filmmaker Joe G, to jump on board. “To see such a pristine modern world setup existing in the middle of nowhere like that, in a place that still really cherishes modesty, history and tradition like the United Arab Emirates–it sounded too good to be true,” said G. “So we decided to use that juxtaposition as our theme for Electric Blue Heaven, our little short film.”
And the imagery they captured certainly looks divine. While Agius was performing his usual aerial antics in the stunning surf, ten Russian models were prancing poolside cheering him on. (Never mind the cocktails were “mocktails”, and the boys had to be very coy about fraternizing with the ladies so as not to offend their Muslim hosts.) Not surprisingly, the amazing success of the mission landed Agius on the cover of Surfing Magazine.
“We were pretty lucky to pull it off,” said G, who made the film along with the support of Agius’ sponsor, Globe. “We actually did a casting call in Dubai to find the girls, and drove them hours through the desert in the Lamborghinis and Ferraris that we were lucky enough to expense. I mean…we figured we had to go big.”
The girls are lovely, of course, but the wave is what most surfers are examining. Full blown surf pools are rare, and most that do exist are using the same technology that powers the likes of Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World, which has been around for 20 years. But according to Tom Lochtefeld, the world’s leading artificial wave guru, things are changing fast as the goal to get surfing in the Olympics has pressed the need to advance artificial wave technology.
Lochtefeld, a surfer, inventor, and real estate investor from San Diego, is best known for his Flow Riders, which are standing waves that can be found everywhere from water parks and retail outlets to the back of cruise ships. “I’ve sold hundreds of sheet waves because they make good economic sense for the buyers,” he explains. “Until now, the problem with making traditional breaking waves–waves that all surfers want–wasn’t the technology, it’s was the business plan. There aren’t too many sheiks around who can afford to operate those things at a loss.”
Lochtefeld’s new surf pool technology is set to solve that equation, not to mention every real surfer’s desire for bigger, bolder waves. “There are a lot of interesting developments happening in surf pool technology right now,” says Lochtefeld, who’s extremely optimistic about what’s coming. “We’re going to see solid waves breaking in parks and lakes very soon, which will bring this cool little movie to life even more…Because let’s face it, when we bring waves to the United States those girls sitting poolside won’t be drinking mocktails.”