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Lochtefeld, Tom


Inventive and entrepreneurial surfer-designer from La Jolla, California; architect of the FlowRider standing-wave machine, patented in 1990. Lochtefeld was born (1952) in San Diego, California, raised in Pacific Beach, and began surfing at 10. He graduated in 1974 from the University of San Diego law school, worked as a real estate developer, and in 1983 cofounded the Raging Waters theme park in San Dimas, California.

Five years later, along with fellow La Jolla surfer-designer Carl Ekstrom and builder Buzzy Sipes, he began working on what would become the FlowRider. The wave is created by a thin layer of water shot at high speed over a hard-rubber hump, which deflects the water into a wave—non-breaking, or crumbling, or barreling, as determined by the type of FlowRider or the machine operator. The first FlowRider opened in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1991.

In 2001 Lochtefeld opened Wave House South Africa in Durban, a full-scale aquatic amusement park featuring his best FlowRider technology alongside a faux-California beachfront. More Wave Houses followed, and by 2013, Lochtefeld's Waveloch company had designed and installed more than 150 FlowRiders in locations around the world including Norway, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates. The more powerful machines are capable of producing a 12-foot high standing wave. FlowRiders also became a popular feature on cruise ships.

Wave House Belmont Park LLC, one of Lochtefeld's companies, was forced to file bankruptcy in 2011, after a rent dispute with the city of San Diego concerning his Wave House in Mission Beach. The company emerged from Chapter 11 in 2013.

Loched-In, a 2000 video, featured pro Kelly Slater, Christian Fletcher, and Luke Egan, among top pro surfers, riding Lochtefeld's standing waves in venues around the world.