GET ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
magazine
Yes! Send me the FREE digital edition of Attractions Management and the FREE weekly Attractions Management ezines and breaking news alerts!
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Get Attractions Management digital magazine FREE
Sign up here ▸
Jobs   News   Features   Products   Company profilesProfiles   Magazine   Handbook   Advertise    Subscribe  
Interview
Tom Lochtefeld

The father of modern surf parks revolutionised the market with the FlowRider and Wave House. Now he’s chasing a lifelong dream, as Magali Robathan discovers


When mad keen surfer, Tom Lochtefeld, sold his FlowRider technology to Whitewater West in 2014, he could have kicked back and spent the rest of his days at the beach.

Instead, Lochtefeld – the inventor of the Sheetflow technology that had revolutionised surfing attractions and the brains behind FlowRider and the Wave House surf venue brand – went back to square one, driven by a passion to create a new evolution in artificial surfing waves.

“Ever since I got into waterparks in the 80s I’ve had a mission,” he tells me, talking from his home in California. “I sold FlowRider because I wanted to focus on pure surf. I had a vision for a product line that would be commercially viable and create the most epic surfing waves in the world. I wanted to go for gold, so that’s what I decided to do,” he says.

The day after selling FlowRider, Lochtefeld announced the launch of Surf Loch, a new company dedicated to creating something he’s been focused on since the early days – a true deep-water wave.

At the time, a lack of certain pieces of technology meant the concept wasn’t immediately viable, but after years of trial and error, Lochtefeld and his team have finally created the Surf Loch Surf Pool, and he’s confident it will revolutionise the industry.

The new wave technology – developed together with Siemens – uses pressurised air within custom-designed concrete chambers to create surfable waves. “Quantum level improvement in computer processing with a corresponding reduction in cost has enabled us to generate pretty much any wave that occurs in the ocean using pneumatics,” says Lochtefeld.

Under construction
Now Surf Loch has 10 wave pools in development, with construction underway for a major park in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, due to open in spring 2024 – and a ‘new style wave park’ featuring Surf Loch technology due to open in Palm Springs, California this year.

The Rotterdam attraction, called RiF010, will be an urban wave pool featuring Surf Loch waves in a disused 12th century canal in the centre of the city. Capable of generating a wave every seven seconds, it will be suitable for surfers of all abilities, as well as kayakers and bodyboarders.

The origins of the Palm Springs project go back to 2018 when Lochtefeld entered Escrow to purchase the defunct Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark in Palm Springs. Arranging to sell to outside investor, Pono Partners, Lochtefeld reserved the right to build a 16-caisson surf pool (three times larger than the original wavepool) featuring overhead barrels to appeal to the best surfers in Southern California. Newly named, the Palm Springs Surf Club, this revamped facility is set to open in summer 2023.

BITTEN BY THE BUG
Growing up in La Jolla, California, Lochtefeld caught the surfing bug early. “It’s kind of a big deal to me,” he says, in what feels like something of an understatement.

“That experience of the wave – in my life there’s been nothing more compelling than taking that initial drop, then feeling your ability to control, carve and manoeuvre your board on a moving dynamic wave face,” he says. “Once you get bitten by that bug, it’s a real driver.”

A talented athlete, Lochtefeld was offered a football scholarship at Stanford University, but decided to go where the waves were, studying first at the University of California, Berkeley and then the University of San Diego Law School.

In the 1970s, Lochtefeld worked in real estate in San Diego, but he always knew he wanted to make a career out of his passion for surfing.

“The most practical way to get into that market was through waterparks,” he says. “I joined forces with [developer] Bryant Morris, and we created the Raging Waters waterpark in LA.

“I was so excited when we opened the wave pool there – I brought my surfboard, all fired up, but when I tried to surf it, I couldn’t believe it – it was a piece of garbage. You couldn’t catch the wave at all. I just said, ‘are you kidding me? This is such a waste’.

“The technology wasn’t there to enable a surfing attraction at that time, so I said to myself, ‘OK, now I’ve got a mission to create the perfect wave’.”

Back to the drawing board
Lochtefeld’s vision was to bring the joy and passion of surfing to as many people as possible, no matter where they were. He sold his share in Raging Waters in 1987 and spent the next few years studying waves, experimenting with wave machines and developing patents.

While it soon became apparent that the technology wasn’t yet available to create an economically viable deep water surf pool, Lochtefeld realised that a surfer only actually needs the surface of the wave to ride on.

He teamed up with the hydraulics lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego to create the FlowRider, a ‘sheet wave’ surf simulator that pumps thousands of gallons of water a minute across a small area to create a stationary wave with a curling lip.

The first FlowRider was launched at the Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1991, followed by the launch of the FlowBarrel sheet wave at Summerland Resort in Norway two years later.

A huge tour with Swatch and Siemens FlowTours introduced the sport of flowboarding to a global audience, with pro board athletes including Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk and Terje Hakonsen helping to raise its profile.

“It was a blast,” says Lochtefeld. “We went to nine different venues around the world – it was just this massive party. They spent $2m on each event – we had mega rock and roll concerts, millions of people would come by. All the surfers were blown away.”

The tour proved what Lochtefeld knew – that the value of the wave was more than just the throughput of people riding it. “I knew that there was a visual spectator component that needed to be counted and also there was additional revenue – F&B, retail, events – that could go with it,” he says.

Lochtefeld developed the Wave House entertainment venues as a showcase for his surf technologies. A mix of California surf-inspired sport, music, entertainment, food, drink and retail, with the FlowRider and FlowBarrel as the centrepiece attractions, the first Wave House launched in 2001 in Durban, and the concept quickly gained popularity around the world.

“Wave House was such a show,” says Lochtefeld. “We made a lot of money – Wave House San Diego was turning over US$7m in F&B alone in a four month period. It was great business experience and we had so much fun doing it.”

Facing the competition
It’s fair to say that Lochtefeld has lost none of his drive, and while he enjoys reminiscing about the past, his focus is firmly on what’s ahead. When he started out, there was no surf pool market – now the global market is substantial and growing all the time.

He doesn’t seem phased by the presence of other suppliers, saying. “Competition is the most positive thing you could have. It drives innovation and if there’s other tech out there that’s better than ours, then those companies absolutely deserve to succeed, but I also have 100 per cent confidence in our products.”

Adding residential
As for the future of the sector as a whole, Lochtefeld likens it to the evolution of the golf and ski resort markets. “It’s going to be very similar,” he says. “A surf pool is much physically smaller and the capital cost is equal to or less than a golf or ski resort, yet you can get the same lifestyle benefit that ties into ancillary revenue streams – F&B and retail – and the residential component, which is going to be a big element going forward.

“Adding residential changes the whole dynamic. The surf pool isn’t the be all and end all – it becomes an amenity to anchor a much bigger development. That’s the direction this market will go in,” he concludes.

Photo: R Lochtefeld

"There’s been nothing more compelling in my life than the feeling of catching a wave" – Tom Lochtefeld

Making waves – the technology

Surf Loch creates waves using pressurised air within concrete chambers called caissons.

The timing, sequence, and force with which each caisson releases wave energy determines the size, shape, and behaviour of the wave. This level of control allows the creation of an infinite variety of wave types within the same pool using software, rather than by doing so mechanically, as used to happen with older wave pools.

Surf legend Cheyne Magnusson, an investor in the Palm Springs waterpark, works on wave design at Surf Loch, with Lochtefeld telling Beach Grit: “He is a phenomenal wave composer, a virtuoso on our equipment.”

RiF010 is one of 10 wave projects in development by Surf Loch Credit: Photo: Erik van ettinger
Lochtefeld has made it his mission to bring surfing to as many people as possible Credit: Photo: Tanner Wilson
The RiF010 urban surf development is being built in a disused canal in central Rotterdam Credit: Photo: RIF010
A surf pool built for a private client by Lochtefeld and Surf Loch (location undisclosed) Credit: Photo: Jimmy Wilson
The Wave House brand combines surfing, music, entertainment, F&B and retail Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
COMPANY PROFILES
Painting With Light

By combining lighting, video, scenic and architectural elements, sound and special effects we tell s [more...]
Alterface

Alterface’s Creative Division team is seasoned in concept and ride development, as well as storyte [more...]
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different [more...]
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

08-08 May 2024

Hospitality Design Conference

Hotel Melià , Milano , Italy
04-07 Nov 2024

Global Wellness Summit (GWS)

In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
LATEST ISSUES
+ View Magazine Archive

Attractions Management

2024 issue 1


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2023 issue 4


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2023 issue 3


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2023 issue 2


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management News

06 Apr 2020 issue 153


View on turning pages
Download PDF
View archive
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Handbook

2019


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024
Get Attractions Management digital magazine FREE
Sign up here ▸
Jobs    News   Products   Magazine   Subscribe
Interview
Tom Lochtefeld

The father of modern surf parks revolutionised the market with the FlowRider and Wave House. Now he’s chasing a lifelong dream, as Magali Robathan discovers


When mad keen surfer, Tom Lochtefeld, sold his FlowRider technology to Whitewater West in 2014, he could have kicked back and spent the rest of his days at the beach.

Instead, Lochtefeld – the inventor of the Sheetflow technology that had revolutionised surfing attractions and the brains behind FlowRider and the Wave House surf venue brand – went back to square one, driven by a passion to create a new evolution in artificial surfing waves.

“Ever since I got into waterparks in the 80s I’ve had a mission,” he tells me, talking from his home in California. “I sold FlowRider because I wanted to focus on pure surf. I had a vision for a product line that would be commercially viable and create the most epic surfing waves in the world. I wanted to go for gold, so that’s what I decided to do,” he says.

The day after selling FlowRider, Lochtefeld announced the launch of Surf Loch, a new company dedicated to creating something he’s been focused on since the early days – a true deep-water wave.

At the time, a lack of certain pieces of technology meant the concept wasn’t immediately viable, but after years of trial and error, Lochtefeld and his team have finally created the Surf Loch Surf Pool, and he’s confident it will revolutionise the industry.

The new wave technology – developed together with Siemens – uses pressurised air within custom-designed concrete chambers to create surfable waves. “Quantum level improvement in computer processing with a corresponding reduction in cost has enabled us to generate pretty much any wave that occurs in the ocean using pneumatics,” says Lochtefeld.

Under construction
Now Surf Loch has 10 wave pools in development, with construction underway for a major park in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, due to open in spring 2024 – and a ‘new style wave park’ featuring Surf Loch technology due to open in Palm Springs, California this year.

The Rotterdam attraction, called RiF010, will be an urban wave pool featuring Surf Loch waves in a disused 12th century canal in the centre of the city. Capable of generating a wave every seven seconds, it will be suitable for surfers of all abilities, as well as kayakers and bodyboarders.

The origins of the Palm Springs project go back to 2018 when Lochtefeld entered Escrow to purchase the defunct Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark in Palm Springs. Arranging to sell to outside investor, Pono Partners, Lochtefeld reserved the right to build a 16-caisson surf pool (three times larger than the original wavepool) featuring overhead barrels to appeal to the best surfers in Southern California. Newly named, the Palm Springs Surf Club, this revamped facility is set to open in summer 2023.

BITTEN BY THE BUG
Growing up in La Jolla, California, Lochtefeld caught the surfing bug early. “It’s kind of a big deal to me,” he says, in what feels like something of an understatement.

“That experience of the wave – in my life there’s been nothing more compelling than taking that initial drop, then feeling your ability to control, carve and manoeuvre your board on a moving dynamic wave face,” he says. “Once you get bitten by that bug, it’s a real driver.”

A talented athlete, Lochtefeld was offered a football scholarship at Stanford University, but decided to go where the waves were, studying first at the University of California, Berkeley and then the University of San Diego Law School.

In the 1970s, Lochtefeld worked in real estate in San Diego, but he always knew he wanted to make a career out of his passion for surfing.

“The most practical way to get into that market was through waterparks,” he says. “I joined forces with [developer] Bryant Morris, and we created the Raging Waters waterpark in LA.

“I was so excited when we opened the wave pool there – I brought my surfboard, all fired up, but when I tried to surf it, I couldn’t believe it – it was a piece of garbage. You couldn’t catch the wave at all. I just said, ‘are you kidding me? This is such a waste’.

“The technology wasn’t there to enable a surfing attraction at that time, so I said to myself, ‘OK, now I’ve got a mission to create the perfect wave’.”

Back to the drawing board
Lochtefeld’s vision was to bring the joy and passion of surfing to as many people as possible, no matter where they were. He sold his share in Raging Waters in 1987 and spent the next few years studying waves, experimenting with wave machines and developing patents.

While it soon became apparent that the technology wasn’t yet available to create an economically viable deep water surf pool, Lochtefeld realised that a surfer only actually needs the surface of the wave to ride on.

He teamed up with the hydraulics lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego to create the FlowRider, a ‘sheet wave’ surf simulator that pumps thousands of gallons of water a minute across a small area to create a stationary wave with a curling lip.

The first FlowRider was launched at the Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1991, followed by the launch of the FlowBarrel sheet wave at Summerland Resort in Norway two years later.

A huge tour with Swatch and Siemens FlowTours introduced the sport of flowboarding to a global audience, with pro board athletes including Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk and Terje Hakonsen helping to raise its profile.

“It was a blast,” says Lochtefeld. “We went to nine different venues around the world – it was just this massive party. They spent $2m on each event – we had mega rock and roll concerts, millions of people would come by. All the surfers were blown away.”

The tour proved what Lochtefeld knew – that the value of the wave was more than just the throughput of people riding it. “I knew that there was a visual spectator component that needed to be counted and also there was additional revenue – F&B, retail, events – that could go with it,” he says.

Lochtefeld developed the Wave House entertainment venues as a showcase for his surf technologies. A mix of California surf-inspired sport, music, entertainment, food, drink and retail, with the FlowRider and FlowBarrel as the centrepiece attractions, the first Wave House launched in 2001 in Durban, and the concept quickly gained popularity around the world.

“Wave House was such a show,” says Lochtefeld. “We made a lot of money – Wave House San Diego was turning over US$7m in F&B alone in a four month period. It was great business experience and we had so much fun doing it.”

Facing the competition
It’s fair to say that Lochtefeld has lost none of his drive, and while he enjoys reminiscing about the past, his focus is firmly on what’s ahead. When he started out, there was no surf pool market – now the global market is substantial and growing all the time.

He doesn’t seem phased by the presence of other suppliers, saying. “Competition is the most positive thing you could have. It drives innovation and if there’s other tech out there that’s better than ours, then those companies absolutely deserve to succeed, but I also have 100 per cent confidence in our products.”

Adding residential
As for the future of the sector as a whole, Lochtefeld likens it to the evolution of the golf and ski resort markets. “It’s going to be very similar,” he says. “A surf pool is much physically smaller and the capital cost is equal to or less than a golf or ski resort, yet you can get the same lifestyle benefit that ties into ancillary revenue streams – F&B and retail – and the residential component, which is going to be a big element going forward.

“Adding residential changes the whole dynamic. The surf pool isn’t the be all and end all – it becomes an amenity to anchor a much bigger development. That’s the direction this market will go in,” he concludes.

Photo: R Lochtefeld

"There’s been nothing more compelling in my life than the feeling of catching a wave" – Tom Lochtefeld

Making waves – the technology

Surf Loch creates waves using pressurised air within concrete chambers called caissons.

The timing, sequence, and force with which each caisson releases wave energy determines the size, shape, and behaviour of the wave. This level of control allows the creation of an infinite variety of wave types within the same pool using software, rather than by doing so mechanically, as used to happen with older wave pools.

Surf legend Cheyne Magnusson, an investor in the Palm Springs waterpark, works on wave design at Surf Loch, with Lochtefeld telling Beach Grit: “He is a phenomenal wave composer, a virtuoso on our equipment.”

RiF010 is one of 10 wave projects in development by Surf Loch Credit: Photo: Erik van ettinger
Lochtefeld has made it his mission to bring surfing to as many people as possible Credit: Photo: Tanner Wilson
The RiF010 urban surf development is being built in a disused canal in central Rotterdam Credit: Photo: RIF010
A surf pool built for a private client by Lochtefeld and Surf Loch (location undisclosed) Credit: Photo: Jimmy Wilson
The Wave House brand combines surfing, music, entertainment, F&B and retail Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
Credit: Photo: Wave House Holdings LLC
LATEST NEWS
Heartbreak for Swedish theme park, Liseberg, as fire breaks out
A fire has destroyed part of the new water world, Oceana, at Liseberg in Sweden, and a construction worker has been reported missing.
Museum director apologises after comparing the city of Florence to a sex worker
Museum director Cecilie Hollberg has come under fire for comparing the city to a sex worker due to uncontrolled mass tourism.
Populous reveals plans for major e-sports arena in Saudi Arabia
Populous have unveiled their plans for a state-of-the-art e-sports arena, designed to stand as a central landmark in Qiddaya City’s gaming and e-sports district, Saudi Arabia.
Raby Castle reveals ambitious plans to become a major visitor destination
Raby Castle, known as one of the finest medieval fortifications in England, is nearing the end of an ambitious two-year renovation project.
Wake The Tiger launches new 1,000sq m expansion
Wake the Tiger, the Bristol-based immersive art experience, is set to open its 1,000sq m expansion on Friday 2 February.
Merlin teams up with Hasbro and Lego to create Peppa Pig experiences
Merlin Entertainments, the LEGO Group and Hasbro have teamed up to create Peppa Pig experiences.
Tate Modern and Frame collaborate on a mind/body experience
London boutique operator, Frame, has teamed up with the Tate Modern to offer two yin and sound yoga classes, following by a tour of the art gallery.
Elvis Presley Live is rolling out globally
Immersive entertainment specialists, Layered Reality, is creating a tribute to Elvis Presley featuring a concert experience with a life-sized digital Elvis.
Carmel Lewis takes top spot at BRC
Carmel Lewis has been appointed president at global experiential planning and design firm, BRC Imagination Arts, heralding a new era for the company.
Perth Museum to launch at Easter with rare Jacobite objects
Opening over Easter weekend in March 2024 after a £26.5m redevelopment project, Perth Museum will tell the story of Perth – Scotland’s first capital.
'World's largest' indoor ski centre slated to open in 2025
Huafa Snow World, a 131-hectare entertainment destination in Shenzhen, China, designed by architecture firm, 10 Design is slated to open in 2025.
Therme Group confirms Incheon Golden Harbor location for South Korean wellbeing resort
Global wellbeing organisation Therme Group has announced the location of its first Asia Pacific project. The upcoming resort will open in South Korea’s Incheon City as part of its Golden Harbor development.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
Painting With Light

By combining lighting, video, scenic and architectural elements, sound and special effects we tell s [more...]
Alterface

Alterface’s Creative Division team is seasoned in concept and ride development, as well as storyte [more...]
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different [more...]
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

08-08 May 2024

Hospitality Design Conference

Hotel Melià , Milano , Italy
04-07 Nov 2024

Global Wellness Summit (GWS)

In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS