New Wave-Making Technology Touches Off San Diego’s Wave War

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the water pumps and foils in the pool bottom, McFarland said it’s possible to create certain effects, such as creating a pitching wave, the kind of wave that forms a classic tubular curl.

AWM contends that could make its SurfStream design more appealing to the mainstream surfing industry, an enormous market that so far has been lukewarm in terms of embracing wave machines as a venue for surfing contests, for example. The company claims its SurfStream design also is more authentic because it enables surfers to ride at an angle across the wave. “Any kind of oblique wave that you ride at an angle is going to be more challenging and higher difficulty,” McFarland says. “That’s also what the surfing industry is more interested in.”

Winning over the established surfing community could be the key to helping AWM gain inroads among water parks and other venues, such as hotel resorts and action sports events, McFarland said. He told me the main reason he agreed to participate in the MIT Enterprise Forum was to get ideas for other collaborations that could help the company get into established markets, such as amusement parks, and to grow its business.

One idea McFarland is exploring is collaborating with surf camp operators along the coast of Southern California. Perhaps instructors could use a SurfStream machine to provide lessons and pro surfers could provide demonstrations.

McFarland said AWM already has changed its business model with help from San Diego entrepreneur Marco Thompson. who provided AWM an undisclosed first round of “pre-Series A” funding in December. “It’s really under Marco’s mentoring that we’ve changed the business model from just licensing our technology to employing people and going to more of a direct sales, manufacturing, and installation [approach],” McFarland said.

With the angel funding, McFarland said AWM has the capital it needs for now, and the company is busy fulfilling its existing contracts for SurfStream installations in the United States and overseas, with the next one opening at a Sandals Resort in the Turks and Caicos. If they could just catch the right wave, they’d be sitting on top of the world.

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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