Surfers travel to the most remote corners of the world to find the perfect wave. However rare and fleeting– when conditions are just right, the results are magic. But these waves weren’t created by nature. They were made inside a wave pool in central California, nearly 200 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. It’s the result of a collaboration between a fluid mechanics specialist, Adam Fincham, and 11-time world champion surfer, Kelly Slater. Wave pools for surfing date back more than fifty years but even the best have paled in comparison to ocean waves. Under lab conditions, a wave a few centimeters tall can be predictably modeled using linear equations. But scaling up, Fincham and his co-workers had many other factors to contend with– from turbulence to oscillations of the entire water body, which is called seiching. Scientist’s fine tuned wave shapes with Slater’s input, lab-built models, and supercomputers often running weeklong simulations. They applied their findings to an artificial lake originally made for water skiing that stretches 700 meters long and 150 meters wide. A slab of carefully shaped metal called a hydrofoil is attached to a contraption that’s the size of a few train cars. And with the help of more than 150 truck tires, runs down a track. A cable pulls the hydrofoil at up to 30 kilometers per hour for the length of the pool, sculpting a wave that can stand more than 2 meters tall. The wave shape changes as it passes over contoured reefs along the bottom of the pool. Giant gutters serve as dampers to reduce seiching and limit bounce-back from the pool walls. Recently, some of the top professional surfers in the world were invited to the Surf Ranch to compete. Rides can last for 50 seconds and the wave alternates between faces to carve on and barreling sections. Stephanie Gilmore, six- time World Surf League champion, stayed in a barrel for an astonishing 14 seconds. The Surf Ranch is a prototype and is not open to the public. But its developers plan to build resorts around similar wave pools at landlocked locales. And the ability to adjust the wave could provide a controlled way for beginners to learn and for professionals to train. If these visions come true, Kelly’s wave could fundamentally alter the surf world and, artificial as it may be, redefine the search for the perfect wave.