Releasing a video that featured a misty morning, some seriously chilly water and a 45-second freight-train barrel, the 11-time World Champion -- and undisputed greatest competitive surfer ever -- gave the world its first glimpse of what is possible when science, imagination and dogged determination collide.
For years prior, the wave pool game had been a hit-and-miss affair as businesses went belly up and the pursuit of a quality human-made freshwater wave persisted. Then came Slater and the all-star team of engineers and scientists that he assembled for the Kelly Slater Wave Company. What they created was revolutionary. Nothing like it had ever been achieved.
"This is something I dreamt about as a kid," Slater explains in the video.
The team first started experimenting with concepts as far back as 2007, and after countless iterations, were finally ready to reveal their project on December 18, 2015.
Six years since that fateful YouTube drop and it's easy to forget how earth shattering that moment was. Nobody knew anything about the pool's location, how long it had been in development or the tech that made it tick. But here, for the first time, was a perfect wave that seemed to offer endless possibilities in a fully controllable environment.
"We weren't in a hurry," Slater continued. "We could've put out an inferior wave years ago. We waited all that time to do the right thing. This is the best man-made wave ever made."
That moment launched a virtual arms race as the validity of human-made waves was immediately proven. Today, there are wave pools and surf parks popping up around the world, but the Surf Ranch remains the gold standard in terms of quality and length of ride, and is the only freshwater venue on the WSL Championship Tour schedule.