Blowing the location on Slater's wave pool
After seeing the perfection unveiled by Kelly and his team at Kelly Slater Wave Pools this morning, my first question was: Where is the test facility and how did they keep it secret for so long?
Theories were already starting to fly across the internet, but a single rural satellite image with an interesting long, black rectangular shape was the starting point for my investigation.
The clues were easy enough to follow: Central Valley California, with a clear Route 41 numbered along with 18th Avenue.
The address pointed to what looked to be a single ski water park over 110 miles from the coast (the same distance mentioned by Kelly in the clip). Was this the secret location that the KSWC had been keeping under wraps?
With all the tools freely available to us in this day and age (Google, Google Earth, Google Streetview) it only took an hour or so to confirm the likely location of the test facility.
Firstly, a check of the history of the location revealed that the dual lake setup has been there since about 2004, way before Kelly was likely to have been looking for land to test his experiment on.
If the lake had just popped up in the last year or two - easily verifiable via Google Earth history - it would of been easy to confirm this was the location. This was a slight curveball that needed to be clarified, but which could also yield more information.
So, the question begged: What could a large, rectangular lake possibly be used for?
The only option I could think of was wakeboarding or water skiing. So I Googled the address along with the term 'water ski' to see if anything appeared. This brought up an interesting article stating the "Ski Lake Home" was sold in January 2014, right in the middle of the public battle to get the first wave pool up and running.
A couple of other interesting tid bits from the article: the real state agent is Jim Knoska of Beach Cities Real Estate, a "local resident of the Newport Beach" who "goes out of his way to help find the perfect property for his clients. Jim normally works in the Newport & Huntington Beach area with a focus on beach front properties."
The property is "approximately 3 hours to the beach which is normally where Knoska performs most of his real estate transactions. Jim had a client who was interested in lake property and he was able to locate this incredible deal out in Lemoore."
"The biggest feature of the sale was the private lake that was attached to the land. It's rare to find such a large parcel of land that covered nearly 20 acres and included the large lake that is ideal for water skiing."
So, an Orange County Real Estate agent centred around the Newport & Huntington Beach areas, with a client looking for a lake property three hours from the coast? The clues kept adding up. According to his LinkedIn profile, Jim is also a surfer. Tick, tick, tick.
Going back to the history view on Google Earth back before the acquisition of the property in January 2014, two clear lakes can be seen. However the most recent image in May 2015 has the eastern-most lake filled in, along with the construction of a cement structure running the length of the remaining lake.
Was this the mechanism that would create the waves, or was it the construction of a cable tow Wake/Ski park?
Looking closely at the promotional video, there are clearly visible telephone poles in the background looking towards Jackson Avenue, which look very similar to the ones shown on Google Earth.
But this wasn’t enough.
The final clincher was a pulled-back shot showing a corrugated iron shed with a slight pitch, two doors on its side and an additional white box on top.
A quick check back to Google Street View, and boom, there it was clear to see.
Conveniently, Slater’s new wave pool shares a back fence with the Phoenix Sunrise Golf Course. No doubt this was a key selling point for Slater who would appreciate the proximity of a round of eighteen.
So while Kelly and his team have tried their best too keep this location a secret, it lasted less than one hour. Flights are now booked for a strike mission to California. //CRAIG BROKENSHA
If you missed the first vision of Kelly Slater's Wave Pool, watch it here.