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For decades, surfers chasing the perfect wave have been subject to the vagaries of nature.
But what if the field of play — oscillating water — could be sculpted into its ideal form as with other board sports (think skateboard half-pipes)?
The idea now appears to be tantalizingly within reach.
About a year and a half ago, a company owned by the surfer Kelly Slater released a video from “a secret spot about 110 miles from the coast.” In it, Mr. Slater, an 11-time world champion, is seen in a wave pool gliding in and out of a glassy seven-foot barrel.
The surf community was mesmerized — and brimming with questions.
“It’s just astoundingly perfect and beautiful, way better than anything anybody else has come up with,” said Jess Ponting, director of the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University.
But where was it? And can we ride it? And, if so, when?
The Kelly Slater Wave Company and its owner, the World Surf League, have not been saying much.
The facility’s location — on the outskirts of Lemoore, in the San Joaquin Valley — was only pieced together over time by Reddit users using clues from the video and others who went there to investigate.
It turned out to be a former water ski facility, 700 feet long by 70 feet wide.
Greg Gatzka, community development director for Kings County, said permits now under review would let the companies expand the site with a campground, performance stage and eating venues. The plans called for events that draw 10,000 people, he said.
In a statement, the World Surf League said the Lemoore “Surf Ranch” was a research and training facility. Mr. Slater declined to talk. But a couple of months ago, on Instagram, he said the pool was being retooled to be “even better.”
Wave companies have been in something of an arms race to develop technology that could tap a new market for surf parks, said John Luff, the president of Surf Park Central, a trade publication.
But mimicking the ocean has been tricky. Even if Mr. Slater’s machine did make the perfect wave, to be marketable at a public park it would need to crank them out in rapid succession. It’s unclear that it could.
Until now, the Lemoore pool has run in one direction, dragging a foil through the water to make waves. Mr. Gatzka said engineers are trying now to make it go both ways.
Industry analysts said the Lemoore facility could take a number of forms. Tournament hosting is a possibility. Another would be to target high-paying customers — a Pebble Beach for surfers.
“You’re talking about being able to deliver an experience that somebody might try and chase around the world their entire life and might never find,” Mr. Luff said.
He added, “I think that’s a really, really interesting value proposition.”
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
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• “I don’t want to die out here.” Meet the people facing President Trump’s budget cuts. [The New York Times]
• How shelters for vulnerable children are instead funneling many into the criminal justice system. [San Francisco Chronicle]
• A suicide epidemic has pushed California’s largest tribe into an existential crisis. [Los Angeles Times]
• “I think the internet is broken,” said Evan Williams, a Twitter founder. And it’s getting worse. [The New York Times]
• The Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco tries to help dying people live fully right up to the end. [The New York Times]
• Photos: San Francisco hosted Bay to Breakers, a footrace known more for its costumes than who wins. [San Francisco Chronicle]
• “Awkward Thoughts” by the Berkeley comedian W. Kamau Bell is the latest in a canon of “awkward” work by black creatives. [The New York Times]
• The search for a great aperitif stops with good vermouth, cool and fragrant. [The New York Times]
Coming Up This Week
• The Warriors could become Western Conference champions Monday after their matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.
• On Tuesday, the musical adaptation of “Roman Holiday,” featuring Cole Porter songs, premieres in San Francisco.
• On Sunday, Vista holds its strawberry festival. Last year, there were 100,000 people and 8,000 pounds of strawberries.
• The five-day Sacramento County Fair kicks off Thursday. There will be rides, music and pig racing.