Art meets technology and sport in the unique film that is Electric Wave – an extraordinary experience for all involved.

Todd Glaser

20 March, 2020

A perfect wave – worthy of the combined talents of three of the world’s best surfers – appears out of the darkness in a giant pool in the middle of the California desert. Carving across its face comes seven-time world surfing champion, Steph Gilmore, followed from the darkness by fellow surfing royalty, Coco Ho and Leah Dawson. The trio’s ‘lines’ intertwine back and forth across the perfect face, before one by one, they dive up and off back into the night and the dark water.

No, this is not a strange dream – this is Electric Wave, a unique cinematic production by Director, Daniel Askill and Audi, filmed at The Surf Ranch, the brainchild of 11-time world surfing champion, Kelley Slater. 

The concept is next level, and the venue too represents the very cutting-edge of technology. Although on one level it seems to be at odds with the accepted concept of surfing – ie: it’s nowhere near the sea – on so many levels, The Surf Ranch brings the very idea of surfing to an inland community. And it uses sustainable, electric energy to power the massive ‘Vehicle’ which drives the waves in this 610 metre long and 150 metre wide ‘pool’.

Building or sculpting waves of varying sizes in the wave pool is ‘The Vehicle’ – a hulking 100 tonne hydrofoil, capable of speeds of up to 30km/h, is driven by an electric motor. This massive machine rides on 150 truck tyres as it races down the side of the pool, literally pushing the wall of water ahead of it.

In fact it’s considerably more complicated than that, which is why this whole facility, which started as a dream in a young Kelly Slater’s mind, took a decade and the combined skills of Adam Finchman – an aerospace engineer specialising in fluid dynamics, and a team of crack scientists from the University of Southern California – to make a reality.

Their efforts have produced something extraordinary, which has in turn been used to film something extraordinary in its own right. The perfect wave, lit up in the middle of the night for the first time and three of the world’s surfing greats. Perfect conditions for creating surfing and artistic history – and no sharks!

Surfing world champion and Audi ambassador, Stephanie Gilmore, sums it up when filming wraps up. “This is the best pool party I’ve ever been to.”