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Pipe dream now reality

Inventor Steve Kriticos and former world champion bodyboarder Michael Eppelstun getting shacked on the Latitube.
Inventor Steve Kriticos and former world champion bodyboarder Michael Eppelstun getting shacked on the Latitube. Leigh Jensen

STEVE Kriticos says his pipe dream, the Latitube wave simulator, has effectively captured the rush, velocity and intensity of a barrelling wave.

The amazing development, stored in the Coffs Harbour warehouse of Swimplex Aquatics, presents massive international possibilities – not to mention a new meaning to the term “tube riding”.

Unlike other wave simulators and wave pools, the Latitube pumps water over a flexible 20mm mat know as “the curtain ride surface”, which is similar in feel to a backyard trampoline.

Harnessing the energy of a 50,000-litre water pump, the prototype can change the shape and the type of wave the operator wants to ride.

The electronic settings can throw up left and right-handed barrels and pits ranging from 1.5 to 3 metres high.

All the while, the boardrider floats on water pumped through jets from a large water tank.

“Basically the Latitube reproduces the required liquid energy and velocity of a big wave,” Mr Kriticos said.

“It’s the invention I’ve spent years trying to bring to reality, and here it is.”

Placing total faith in his idea, Steve threw every cent he could muster into the Latitube.

After developing the concept, he reached an agreement with Swimplex Aquatics, the local company which recently completed the upgrade of the Coffs Harbour Olympic Swimming Pool.

“We could see the instant potential and possibilities for this product when Steve came to us four years ago,” company director Geoff Leaver said.

“The Latitube has worldwide potential and it sure has been a long road getting to its launch.”

Tested out by former leading Australian bodyboarder Michael “Eppo” Epplestun, the Latitube got a big thumbs up from the one-time world champion.

“He loved the potential of being able to train people to surf on it, and improve their wave riding technique while standing there right next to them.”

Mr Leaver said the company has approached the Lands and Property Management Authority over the scope for a wave simulator to be included in an aquatic centre proposal, suggested for the Coffs Harbour Showground.

“While it’s still very much just a proposal at this point, we believe it would be a great tourist attraction in Coffs Harbour, where the Latitube has been developed.

“The thing about the Latitube is that two girls, who were first-timers to surfing, were riding the wave simulator at the launch like absolute professionals,” he said.



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