US20120183353A1 - Water Sports Facility - Google Patents

Water Sports Facility Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120183353A1
US20120183353A1 US13009836 US201113009836A US20120183353A1 US 20120183353 A1 US20120183353 A1 US 20120183353A1 US 13009836 US13009836 US 13009836 US 201113009836 A US201113009836 A US 201113009836A US 20120183353 A1 US20120183353 A1 US 20120183353A1
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Prior art keywords
water
pool
sports
facility
channel
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Abandoned
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US13009836
Inventor
Richard P. Davis
Chad M. Davis
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Davis Richard P
Davis Chad M
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63GMERRY-GO-ROUNDS; SWINGS; ROCKING-HORSES; CHUTES; SWITCHBACKS; SIMILAR DEVICES FOR PUBLIC AMUSEMENT
    • A63G31/00Amusement arrangements
    • A63G31/007Amusement arrangements involving water

Abstract

Described are systems, devices and methods for providing a facility for water sports such as wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake surfing, kneeboarding and the like in a controlled environment without the concomitant risks inherent in natural environments. Water is circulated by effluents from water pumps in an open air channel or pool and returned in a submerged closed channel. A participant controls velocity of water flowing from effluents and an amount of wake. Circulating water is rapidly decelerated by a second set of water pumps upon detecting participant falling or losing contact from a ski rope.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates generally to systems, devices and methods for providing desired water sports conditions to participants. Specifically, the invention relates to creating an environment with conditions similar to or matching those of an outdoor or natural setting such as a lake, river or other waterway suitable for practicing power-based water sports.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    Generally, power-based water sports such as wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake surfing, kneeboarding and other water sports involve being towed behind a boat, other motorized watercraft, vehicle or other means. Such vehicle typically operates at a relatively high speed—typically between about 10 and 36 miles per hour (about 15 to 56 km/hour). At such speed, a device (e.g. wakeboard) planes over the water surface with a participant wearing or riding the device.
  • [0005]
    In many countries, power-based water sports have become an increasingly popular form of recreation. However, enjoyable participation in power-based water sports often involves many variables including several of which are outside the control of participants. Water conditions, wake conditions, weather, and congestion of waterways are just a few of these variables. At times, an individual is foreclosed from participating in a power-based water sport without participation by a boat driver, an observer or both a boat driver and an observer. For example, when the surface of a lake becomes too rough for safe operation of a ski boat, it is generally not feasible or enjoyable to participate in waterskiing. In another example, when the air or water temperature is relatively cold or near freezing, participants often elect not to participate in power-based water sports.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0006]
    This Summary introduces a non-exclusive selection of aspects or concepts about the present invention in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is the Summary intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.
  • [0007]
    There is provided a controlled environment for participating in a power-based water sports activity irrespective of the time of year or time of day or night. Participation in a power-based water sports activity may be done irrespective of weather or other environmental condition.
  • [0008]
    A participant engages in a power-based water sport while holding onto a ski rope while planing on flowing water. A participant may independently determine and control water velocity exiting effluents and determine and control an amount of wake generated in the water sport facility. Participation in the power-based water sport may be done alone without a need for a boat driver or observer.
  • [0009]
    Safe conditions are provided for engaging in a power-based water sport at a water sports facility. Water conditions in the water sports facility are reproducible from session to session. A facility is indoors, with a possibility of being outdoors, indoors or a combination of outdoors and indoors, or in any desired location including cruise ships, naturally formed locations and artificially formed locations.
  • [0010]
    A wake or other water surface feature or turbulence provided to a participant matches, equals or is superior to the wake or water surface feature or turbulence from a boat or watercraft in a natural water setting.
  • [0011]
    Conditions and/or variables in the water sports facility may be monitored and controlled by an operator. A grill or grate provides a safety mechanism to prevent a participant from entering a submerged return channel. One or more water effluents decelerate water circulating in the water sport facility. Optionally, one or more water effluents circulate water in a reverse direction until a water sport participant re-establishes contact with a ski rope or otherwise reaches a starting position for engaging in a water sport in the water sport facility.
  • [0012]
    A plurality of water sport facilities or lanes are installed in a larger water park facility, each water sport facility being independently operable.
  • [0013]
    These and other aspects of the invention are described further in the Detailed Description.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0014]
    The novel features believed characteristic of the subject matter are set forth in the appended claims. Throughout, like numerals refer to like parts with the first digit of each numeral generally referring to the figure which first illustrates the particular part. The subject matter and a preferred mode of use are best understood by reference to the following Detailed Description of illustrative implementations when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • [0015]
    FIG. 1 is an overhead view of a water sports facility according to an exemplary implementation of the invention;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility shown in FIG. 1;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 2;
  • [0018]
    FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility taken along the line 4-4 in FIG. 2;
  • [0019]
    FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility with a user in a starting position with water at rest;
  • [0020]
    FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility with a user in a fallen position and midway in the facility and traveling toward the downstream side of the pool, the flow of water slowing down; and
  • [0021]
    FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility with a user near the downstream side of the pool with water at or nearly at rest.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0022]
    Water sport enthusiasts have long felt a need for an opportunity to practice water sports without many of the hassles and unpredictability of conditions inherent practicing water sports. The present invention fills this need and other needs. Described herein are systems, devices and methods that allow a participant to wakeboard, waterski, wake skate and the like without the need for a boat, a driver, or an observer. With the use of the present invention, a participant is able to choose at least a water velocity and amount of wake while participating in a water sport.
  • [0023]
    A typical scenario heretofore has been the following. Participants prepare a watercraft and water sport paraphernalia for transport, travel minutes or hours to a designated outdoor venue and then determine whether it is feasible to participate in their desired water sport. Upon arriving at the venue, participants are subject to the unpredictability of weather and other conditions.
  • [0024]
    Frequently, the conditions are non-ideal, but adequate for participating in their desired water sport. For example, the weather may be windy thereby creating chop or wavy conditions on the water. Weather and other conditions often vary throughout the year, from day to day, and even from hour to hour. Thus, even when the weather cooperates for a time, other participants miss the opportunity to engage in their desired water sport during a brief time where ideal conditions are present. In another example, the weather conditions may be favorable but there may not be sufficient daylight to allow safe operation of the watercraft and safe engagement in the desired water sport.
  • [0025]
    Thus, there has been a long-felt need for a facility that provides the conditions to have an ideal, consistent and predictable water sport experience. Such facility would have the right range of temperature, light, visibility, and water conditions for an ideal water sport experience.
  • [0026]
    Further, there has been a long-felt need for a facility to practice a water sport that is safe and free from many of the dangers and risks associated with engaging in the water sport in a lake, reservoir or river. Such dangers and risks in natural waters include but are not limited to varying depths of water, the presence of obstructions (e.g. submerged logs, pier footings, fish lines, fish hooks, cement structures, pipes, abandoned equipment), the lack of adequate daylight or visibility, excessive water vehicle traffic, and the presence of unsafe levels of pollutants.
  • Water Sports Facility
  • [0027]
    FIG. 1 is an overhead view of a water sports facility 100 according to a first exemplary implementation of the invention. The water sports facility may be installed in or partially within a building, natural or man-made structure, cruise ship or outside and exposed to the open air.
  • [0028]
    With reference to FIG. 1, the water sports facility 100 comprises a pool 102 wherein a wakeboarder 104 may participate in wakeboarding. The wakeboarder 104 may move laterally across the pool 102 and ride across a wake 106 created by a water displacement hull, wake inducing device or wake inducing form 108 submerged or partially submerged in the pool 102. The wake may be induced by any means such as, but not limited to, a water displacement hull, model boat, portion or entirety of an actual boat, a miniature boat hull, a series of vanes, a submerged form, a submerged vessel or one or more water flows, outlets, effluents or jets.
  • [0029]
    In the exemplary implementation shown in FIG. 1, a water displacement hull 108 is held in a fore region or upstream side 130 of the pool 102 by one or more supports 110. The wakeboarder 104 resists the flow of the water (moving as shown by the arrows) by holding onto a participant support such as a ski rope 112 which is anchored in a typical location relative to the water displacement hull 108 by a ski rope fixture 114. A participant support may be any fixture or implementation such as a single support bar, a plurality of handles, a plurality of ropes, a series of support bars, etc., within reach of a water support participant 104. The participant support may be located anywhere within the water support facility and sufficiently close to the pool 102.
  • [0030]
    With reference to FIG. 1, in a preferred implementation, the ski rope fixture 114 is fixed at a given height and location relative to the pool 102 or water displacement hull 108. In other implementations, the location and orientation of the ski rope fixture 114 are adjustable so as to accommodate various operations and pool conditions, participant size and desired position for the ski rope 112. Other means (participant support) may be provided for a water sport participant to resist the flow of water in the pool 102.
  • [0031]
    In FIG. 1, in a preferred implementation, the depth of the pool 102 is uniform across the pool width 118. In an exemplary implementation, lateral sides 116 of the pool 102 are vertical or 90 degrees square with the bottom of the pool. In a preferred implementation, the lateral sides 116 of the pool 102 slope slightly outward from the body of the pool 102 to facilitate entry, exit and/or access to the pool 102. The lateral sides 116 may be sloped, angled or shaped to provide for improved access or improved safety. In a preferred implementation, the pool 102 is uniform in depth across the pool width 118 and uniform in depth along the pool length 128 forming an open channel for water flow.
  • [0032]
    In a preferred implementation, the ski rope 112 is 40 feet (about 12 meters), the pool width 118 is preferably about 100 feet (about 31 meters), and the pool length is preferably about 200 feet (about 62 meters). Further, in a preferred implementation, the depth of the pool 102 is from about 3 feet (about 1 meter) to about 5 feet (about 1.5 meters). However, other depths may be used at the point of the user or wakeboarder 104 in the pool 102 or at other locations in the pool 102. An exemplary range of depths in the pool 102 at which to practice the present invention is from about 1 foot (about 0.3 meters) to about 6 feet (about 2 meters). The depth of the pool 102 at any given location may vary from location to location within the pool 102 and from time to time during operation of the water sports facility 100.
  • [0033]
    A position controller 120 provides a mechanism to position the water displacement hull 108 in the pool 102. The x-, y- and z-orientations (not shown), x-, y- and z-positions, and trim (state of levelness along a line running from bow to stern) of the water displacement hull 108 are individually controllable or changeable by the position controller 120. The water displacement hull 108 may be positioned to provide a wake 106 equivalent to, identical to, different from, or better than a wake incident behind a boat operated in an ocean, lake, river or other water. The wake 106 is generated by the flow of water as described further below.
  • Operation
  • [0034]
    During operation, water flows from the upstream side 130 to the downstream side 132 of the pool 102 as indicated by the arrow(s) in the pool 102 of FIG. 1. When a wakeboarder 104 falls during a wakeboarding session, the flow of water pushes the wakeboarder 104 and any equipment downstream and eventually to the downstream side 132 of the pool 102. This action happens in the space of a few seconds. A porous, permeable or grate-like ramp or floor 134 prevents the wakeboarder 104 and any equipment from entering a submerged return channel (not readily visible in FIG. 1; explained more fully below). While the grate-like ramp or floor 134 is shown as an inclined plane, the grate-like ramp or floor 134 may be of any shape or orientation including in a vertical plane. Further, the grate-like ramp or floor 134 may take any shape or follow any contour along the pool width 118. In a preferred implementation, the grate-like ramp or floor 134 is sloped from the bottom of the pool 102 toward the pool deck 138.
  • [0035]
    When water is flowing in the pool 102, the grate-like ramp or floor 134 is capable of directing or facilitating the wakeboarder 104 and any equipment upward and out of the pool onto the pool deck 138 despite any lateral forces from flowing water. The shape or form of the grate-like ramp or floor 134 allows the passage of the water without appreciable interference with the flow of water.
  • [0036]
    An equipment room 150 is the source of power for circulating the water in the pool 102 and submerged return channel. Other geometries and arrangements are possible. In a preferred implementation, equipment room 150 is also the source of control of the various components in the water sports facility. Although not shown, various sensors, controls, actuators, etc. exist to enable the operation of the water sports facility. These sensors, controls, actuators, etc. may be located anywhere within the water sports facility 100 or on participants or operators within the water sports facility 100.
  • [0037]
    With reference to FIG. 1, water circulates in the pool 102 and submerged return channel in response to vigorously flowing, injecting or ejecting water by a plurality of pump motors 160 through a plurality of effluents 164. Water is supplied to the circulating pump motors 160 by a plurality of influents 166. In an exemplary implementation, there is one effluent 164 for each of the pump motors 160 and one influent 166 for each of the pump motors 160. Each of the plurality of effluents 164 terminates at the upstream side 130 of the pool 102 and under the decking 138 of the pool 102.
  • [0038]
    In a preferred implementation, the exiting ends of the effluents 164 are below the surface of the water and are directed in line or parallel with the surface of the water in the pool 102. Also in a preferred implementation, the upstream effluents 164 from pump motors 160 are about eight inches in diameter (20 cm); the influents are larger such as about 10 inches in diameter (25 cm). Other sizes of effluents 164 and influents 166 may be used. The effluents 164 and influents 166 may be round, square or of a contoured or shaped design.
  • [0039]
    As explained further below, the equipment room 150 also houses a second plurality or set of deceleration water pumps 152 that eject, flow or inject water, air, or a combination of water and air into the submerged return channel, the floor of the submerged return channel, the immediate floor of the pool, or at a combination of locations or surfaces in the water sports facility 100.
  • [0040]
    The deceleration water pumps 152 eject, inject or flow water through pipes, passages or effluent channels 154 that run beneath the pool 102 and submerged return channel. Injection, ejection or flow of water, air or combination of water and air from the deceleration water pumps 152 decelerates the flow of water passing through the submerged return channel and thus slows the water circulating in the water sports facility.
  • [0041]
    In an exemplary implementation, 10-50 water circulation or pump motors 160, each of about 30 hp capacity, are installed as a first plurality of pump motors 160 and flow or circulate water in the water sports facility 100 and help provide sufficient water flow so as to enable a participant 104 to engage in a water sport. In a preferred implementation, at least 15 pump motors 160 are used. In the exemplary implementation, 20-70 deceleration pump motors 152, each of about 3 hp capacity, are installed as a second plurality of pump motors 152 and slow, stop or circulate water in a reverse direction in the water sports facility 100. In a preferred implementation, at least 10 deceleration pump motors 152 are used. Other numbers, other capacities and other configurations of pump motors 160, 152 may be used.
  • [0042]
    With reference to FIG. 1, a grate or grate-like side 144 forms or is located along the upstream side 130 of the pool 102. The grate 144 does not substantially impact the flow or injection of water in the pool. The grate 144 provides a visual indication and boundary of the upstream side 130 of the pool 102. It is preferable that a participant or any equipment to remain on a downstream side of the grate 144.
  • [0043]
    The sports facility 100 preferably comprises one or more pool heating, filtration and treating units (not shown in FIG. 1). In a preferred implementation, the one or more pool heating, filtration and treating units are located and operated in the equipment room 150. The one or more pool heating, filtration and treating units necessitate one or more heating and treating influents and one or more heating and treating effluents. These influents and effluents may be synonymous with, separate from or connect with the intake and outlet pipes or fixtures described in connection with causing the flow of water in the water sports facility 100.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility shown in FIG. 1 when the water is at rest or substantially flowing so as to allow a water sports participant (wakeboarder 104) to participate in a water sport. The cross-sectional view is of both ends of the entire pool 102 or water sports facility 100. With reference to FIG. 2, during a water sport session (e.g. wakeboarding, waterskiing), the water flows from left to right in the open air channel or pool 102 and clockwise in the water sports facility 100. A plurality of jets or effluents 164 from the equipment room 150 thrust water at the upstream side 130 of the pool 102. The effluents 164 may be located at any desired vertical position 165 at or near the upstream side 130 of the pool. Each of the effluents 164 may be placed and oriented separately and at a desired location vertically and horizontally at any point across the pool width 118. In a preferred implementation, the effluents 164 are about evenly spaced across the pool width 118.
  • [0045]
    When water flows from the effluents 164, water flows under and around the water displacement hull 108. Water flowing from the plurality of effluents 164 accelerates or circulates the water flowing in the pool 102. When water reaches the downstream side 132 of the pool 102, the water flow does not terminate or re-circulate by way of pipes. Instead, the water flows back toward the upstream side of the pool 102 by way of a return channel 202. The extreme downstream side 132 of the pool 102 is preferably curvilinear so encourage a smooth flow of water into the return channel 202. Other geometries and arrangements for connecting the pool 102 and return channel 202 are possible. For example, the pool 102 may have a squared end that drops directly downward to a return channel 202. In another example, water may circulate in an open channel back to the upstream side of the pool 102.
  • [0046]
    In a preferred implementation, the return channel 202 is a submerged return channel and is formed, created or located below the pool 102. Thus, in such an implementation, as the one shown in FIG. 2, water flows downward around and below the floor 240 of the pool 102. The water flow reverses direction relative to the pool or open channel 102 by flowing through the submerged return channel 202.
  • [0047]
    In a preferred implementation, the depth 230 of the water as measured toward the upstream side 130 of the pool and the depth 232 of the water as measured toward the downstream side 132 of the pool are below the deck 138 at both ends of the pool 102. During operation of the water sports facility, this configuration and level of water accommodates variations, ripples, waves or turbulence at the surface of the pool 102. The deck 138 is cantilevered over the upstream side 130 and downstream side 132 of the pool 102. Further, in a preferred implementation, the depth or height 234 of the submerged return channel 202 is matched to the pool depth 230, 232 along the pool length 128 and to the flow of water in the various portions of the water sports facility.
  • [0048]
    Generally, in a preferred implementation, the cross-sectional area (as viewed across the width 118 of the pool) of the pool 102 matches the cross-sectional area of the curved end portions (visible in FIG. 2) and matches the cross-sectional area of the submerged return channel 202 to promote flow of the water in the water sports facility 100. Features and elements such as the grate-like ramp or floor 134 may be taken into account when designing the various widths and heights of the various sections of the pool 102, curved sections, and submerged return channel 202 are selected. There are many benefits of coordinating the geometries of the various portions of the water sports facility 100 as explained herein. One of these benefits is the goal of reducing to a minimum energy lost due to frictional and other losses as the water circulates in the pool 102.
  • [0049]
    With reference to FIG. 2, the thickness of the floor 240 may be small (e.g. less than an inch, a few inches) or may be more substantial (e.g. several inches, multiple feet). In a preferred implementation, the floor 240 is selected to balance the following considerations: (1) reducing the overall volume of water in the water sports facility 100 as much as possible taking into account the task of working with a large volume of water, and (2) avoiding frictional and turbulence energy losses as water in the pool 102 changes direction (180 degree directional change) in a relatively short distance at each end of the water sports facility 100. The floor 240 may be removable and may be installed after completion of the pool 102 and return channel 202. While no water intake and outlet orifices 136 are shown in the floor 240 in FIG. 2, it is within the view of the invention to include water intake and outlet orifices 136 within the floor 240 as necessary to effectuate desired flow of water and desired operation of the water sports facility. Piping could be run under the submerged return channel 202, up through vertical floor supports (described and shown in reference to FIG. 3) and into the floor 240.
  • [0050]
    In a preferred implementation, the floor 240 is made of fiberglass or removably mounted fiberglass panels (not shown in the figures). In other implementations, the floor 240 may be made of any material, and may be coated with or protected by one or more materials (1) that reduce the frictional losses of the flowing water, and (2) that protect the floor 240 from impacts from solid objects such as wakeboards and water skis. In a preferred implementation, the floor 240, pool sides, submerged return channel 202 and grate 134 are made of fiberglass or fiberglass material. Other types of materials may be used for one or more of the components, elements or features such as, for example, a rubbery material, a foam material, a plastic material, or a fluorinated material.
  • [0051]
    With reference to FIG. 2, water flows to circulating water pumps 160 through influents 166. While not shown in FIG. 2, a cowling, scoop, contour, scalloped lip, ledge or other feature may be formed at or near the opening of each inlet or influent 166 (or across the width 118 of the submerged return channel 202) to encourage or otherwise assist circulating water in the return channel 202 to enter each influent 166. At a desired time, the second plurality of water pumps 152 pass or flow water, air or combination of water and air through pipes 154 and out directional jets, openings, orifices or effluents 204 along the bottom of the return channel 202. The operation of the water sports facility 100 is described more fully below.
  • [0052]
    FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. With reference to FIG. 3, a wakeboarder 104 has launched off of a first portion of a wake 106 while moving laterally across a portion of the width 118 of the pool 102. A ski rope is not shown in FIG. 3. A plurality of vertical floor support members 302 are spaced across the floor 240. The spacing may be uniform between adjacent vertical floor support members 302 or each spacing between adjacent vertical floor support members 302 may be individually selected or may be unique. In a preferred implementation, each of the plurality of vertical support members 302 runs the length 128 of the pool 102. Each vertical support member 302 may comprise a single support member or a series a contiguous or non-contiguous support members in tandem along the pool length 128.
  • [0053]
    With reference to FIG. 3, influent and effluent pipes 154, and effluents 204 are features installed in a portion of the submerged return channel 202. The lateral sides 116 of the pool 102 are shown sloped from the bottom 240 of the pool 102 to the deck 138 above the level of the pool. The lateral sides 304 of the submerged return channel 202 are shown vertically in FIG. 3, but may be of any shape or contour. The lateral sides 304 of the submerged return channel 202 may be formed so as to generally match the geometry of the lateral sides 116 of the pool 102 such that the flow characteristics of the submerged return channel 202 match the flow characteristics of the open air channel or pool 102. The top surface 306 of the submerged return channel 202 (and bottom of the floor 240) may be made of a different material (or have different characteristics) than that of the sides 304 or bottom surface 308 of the submerged return channel 202 so as to, for example, ensure proper flow of water through the submerged return channel 202 and other portions of the water sports facility 100. In a preferred implementation, the floor 240 is made from fiberglass or fiberglass panels removably installed in the water sports facility 100.
  • [0054]
    FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility taken along the line 4-4 in FIG. 2. With reference to FIG. 4, a cross-section of a water displacement hull 108 is shown in the pool 102. Water passes along the contours of the water displacement hull 108 as the water flows in the water sports facility 100. Wake (not shown in FIG. 4) is thereby generated in a similar manner as in a typical outdoor (e.g. natural) setting where a boat traverses the surface of a lake or river. In this invention, for participation in a water sport, it is the water in the pool 102 that receives kinetic energy and not the boat. However, the physics are similar, the same or equivalent and thus an equivalent or superior wake is generated in the water sports facility thereby providing an identical, comparable or superior environment for water sports as if a participant were being pulled behind a boat in a natural setting. A propeller, aeration or other elements may be added to the water sports facility 100 or water displacement hull 108 to identically or closely duplicate outdoor experiences within the water sports facility, but without other concomitant non-desired features (e.g. broken glass, hidden hazards, choppy water, windy weather).
  • Alternative Geometries
  • [0055]
    It is to be understood that the pool 102, return channel 202 and other elements or components of the water sports facility 100 are not limited to the generally rectangular cross-sections described and shown herein. It is within the invention to use alternative geometries for the elements or components to provide a venue for practicing water sports at the water sports facility 100. Thus, variations in the geometries of the various elements or components of the water sports facility 100 may be made without deviating from providing sufficiently flowing water in an open air channel. For example, the depth of water toward a center region of a pool may be made deeper than the depth of the water toward the outer edges of the pool. In another example, the floor of a pool may be curved, parabolic or other shape. Likewise, the jets of water causing the primary thrust or flow of water may be place at any location or in any location in the water sports facility.
  • Starting
  • [0056]
    FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility 500 with a user in a starting position. The user or wakeboarder 104 is properly outfitted with a personal floatation device (PFD) and wakeboard. The wakeboarder 104 grasps a handle at a terminal end of the ski rope 112. At this point, the water is preferably at rest as if the wakeboarder 104 were performing a deep water start behind a typical watercraft in a natural setting (e.g. lake, river). When desired, either an operator (not shown) or the wakeboarder 104 can initiate the operation of the water sports facility. Upon receiving a signal, the water sports facility 100 is engaged and water is flowed, pumped or injected from jets or effluents 164 into the upstream 130 portion of the pool 102. Water in the pool 102 begins circulating and accelerates to a relatively steady velocity, preferably within a few seconds. Such a start mimics a start as if behind a boat in a natural setting.
  • [0057]
    The wakeboarder 104 must successfully hold onto the ski rope 112 and plane the wakeboard onto the surface of the water in the pool 102 to successfully make a start and thereby transition to a steady position on the water. When the water effluents 164 first begin pumping, ejecting or flowing water, a rush of turbulent, aerated, or turbulent and aerated surge of water hits the wakeboard and wakeboarder 104. It is partially this surge of water that enables the wakeboarder 104 to start and plane onto the surface of water of the pool 102. At this point, after making a successful start, the wakeboarder 104 is free to act and thereby experience wakeboarding as if in a natural setting as if being towed behind a watercraft in a natural setting.
  • [0058]
    The water displacement hull 108 may be lowered, raised, removed or otherwise adjusted to increase, modify or remove the wake 106 for use by the wakeboarder 104. In a preferred implementation, controls for operating the water displacement hull 108 are found at the terminal end of the ski rope 112. Alternatively, an operator (not shown in FIG. 5) may adjust the position (e.g. up or down) of the water displacement hull 108 relative to the pool 102.
  • [0059]
    The flowing water may be aerated (either at the point of the jets 164 or other location) to provide improved conditions for the wakeboard to plane onto the surface of the water. For example, aeration may be made in the center region of the pool 102, in the region at or near the water displacement hull 108, or along the entire width 118 of the pool 102 as the water in the pool 102 accelerates. Aeration may be continuously generated during a session or may be reduced or eliminated at any point during operation of or session in the water sports facility. The aeration may be discontinued programmatically or in response to a control by a participant 104 or operator. In a preferred implementation, controls for aeration are found at the terminal end of the ski rope 112 and accessible to a participant 104.
  • [0060]
    In a preferred implementation, the water exiting the effluents 164 may be controlled by the wakeboarder or participant 104 through controls at the terminal end of the ski rope 112. In an exemplary implementation, the velocity, volume or combination of velocity and volume of the injected water is adjustable. Accordingly, the velocity of the water circulating in the water sports facility 100 is adjustable. Thus, a wakeboarder 104 may select a desired velocity at which to wakeboard. Adjustment may be made in incremental steps or through a continuous range.
  • [0061]
    In a preferred implementation, a scoreboard or indicator board (not shown in FIG. 5) is mounted at the upstream side 130 of the pool and is visible to the wakeboarder 104 and others in the water sports facility. The scoreboard or indicator board shows one or more items of information. For example, the scoreboard or indicator board shows an actual velocity of water in the pool 102, a desired water velocity or current selection of desired water velocity, an amount of time the wakeboarder 104 has been engaged in the present session, and an indication of an amount of wake currently being generated. Other metrics or information may be shown on the scoreboard or indicator board such as, for example, water temperature, air temperature in the water sports facility, and time remaining in a water sport session. In a preferred implementation, the scoreboard or indicator board shows at least indicators or data associated with the conditions that are changeable by a wakeboarder or participant 104.
  • Stopping
  • [0062]
    If a wakeboarder 104 falls while the facility 100 is in operation, either during a start or during a relatively steady flow of moving water in the pool 102, several components of the water sports facility 100 are engaged. The components act in concert and act rapidly, acting within fractions of a second after a detection of a downed wakeboarder. In a preferred implementation, detection of an indication of non-participation occurs as soon as a wakeboarder 104 loses contact with the terminal end of the ski rope 112 or participant support. For example, with a portion of water in the pool 102 moving at 15 miles per hour (about 24 km per hour), a downed wakeboarder has about 6 seconds before reaching the downstream side 132 of the pool 102.
  • [0063]
    FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility 600 with a user in a fallen position 602, midway in the pool 102, and traveling toward the downstream side 132 of the pool 102. With reference to FIG. 6, as soon as it is detected that the wakeboarder 104 has fallen, several components act to slow the flow of the water. In an exemplary implementation, the first plurality of water pumps 160 ceases to inject water from pipe ends 164 at the upstream side 130 of the pool 102. The deceleration water pumps 152 begin pumping water, air or a combination of water and air 608 against the flow of returning or circulating water in the submerged return channel. The action by the deceleration water pumps 152 is forceful and substantial and operates until the circulating water in the pool 102 returns to a stopped or nearly stopped state and begins reversing the flow of water in the pool 102. These two systems act synchronously so as to decelerate and reverse the circulating water as rapidly as possible. While the components of the water sports facility 100 are described as acting in a particular order, these components may act or otherwise be engaged in any fashion or order so as to decelerate and reverse the flow of the circulating water in the water sports facility 600. For example, certain deceleration water pumps 152 located or operating in or near the center of the pool 102 may be engaged prior to engagement of other deceleration water pumps 152.
  • [0064]
    FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the water sports facility 700 with a user, participant or wakeboarder 702 in an exiting position near the downstream side 132 of the pool 102. In a preferred implementation, the circulating water reaches a nearly resting state by the time the fallen wakeboarder 702 reaches the grate-like ramp or floor 134 at the downstream side 132 of the water sports facility 700. However, in operation, the circulating water may not reach a resting state by the time a fallen wakeboarder 702 reaches the downstream side 132 of the pool 102. One object of decelerating the circulating water after detecting a fallen wakeboarder 702 is to sufficiently slow some or all of the circulating water so as to enable the wakeboarder 702 to successfully regain her composure and to either exit the pool or pause at the grate-like ramp or floor 134 or to wait until the flow of water slows sufficiently to allow the wakeboarder 702 to return to a starting position near the terminal end of the ski rope 112 for another session of wakeboarding or other water sport.
  • [0065]
    In a preferred implementation, upon detecting a fallen wakeboarder 702, the circulating water is brought to a fully stopped or nearly fully stopped condition by the time wakeboarder 702 is carried to the extreme downstream side 132 of the pool 102 and near the grate-like ramp or floor 134. In this preferred implementation, the deceleration water pumps 152 operate until a fallen wakeboarder 702 returns to the participant support near the upstream side 130 of the pool 102. A wakeboarder or participant pays a fee to use the water sports facility 100 for a time, for a number of sessions or on another basis. Assisting a wakeboarder 702 to more quickly return to a starting position at an upstream side 130 of the pool 102 assists the wakeboarder 702 into a more efficient use of a rental time (e.g. 30 minute session in the pool 102 or water sports facility 100) or rental time slot.
  • [0066]
    In other implementations, in order to conserve energy and to shorten time for accelerating circulating water to a desired velocity, the circulating water may be decelerated to a desired reduced velocity upon detecting a fallen wakeboarder 104. A participant 104 or facility operator may choose before a session, a length of time, or for a series of sessions how slow the water is decelerated for a given wakeboarder or participant 104. A desired reduced velocity would be slow enough to allow a fallen wakeboarder 602, 702 to safely exit the pool 102 under his own power without assistance. In other implementations, a desired reduced velocity is approximately zero or negative, where a negative reduced velocity is a reverse circulating water flow sufficient to partially or fully assist a fallen wakeboarder 602, 702 to gently return back to a starting position at the upstream side 130 of the pool 102.
  • Water Park
  • [0067]
    While a single pool 102 is shown in the figures, in a preferred implementation and arrangement, a plurality of water sports facilities 100 or “lanes” are constructed and operate simultaneously and independently from one another in a larger facility or water park. Adjacent pools 102 are separated from each other by a solid boundary, full or partial pool wall, surface lane marker or other means. One or more scoreboards or indicator boards are available for each water sports facility 100 in the larger facility or water park. One or more summary scoreboards, indicator boards and/or control panels are visible by spectators, participants, operators and others in the larger facility or water park. In an optional implementation, visual or audible signals communicate various states of operation of each water sports facility 100 or lane in the larger facility or water park.
  • Control
  • [0068]
    The water sports facility may be operated or controlled by either an operator, by a program, by a participant such as a participating wakeboarder 104 as shown in FIG. 1, or by a combination of operator, program and participating wakeboarder 104. In a preferred implementation, a participating wakeboarder 104 can change, direct and/or control variables and conditions in the water sports facility 100. For example, the wakeboarder 104 from a participating position in the pool 102 can control the speed of the water flowing in the pool 102. Control of the velocity of the flowing water comprises starting the water from a stopped or idle condition for starting a wakeboarding session. Control of the velocity of the flowing water also comprises stopping, decelerating and reversing the flow of water in the pool 102 at the end of a water sport session. Control of the speed of the flowing water also comprises making small or incremental adjustments in velocity, either faster or slower, from any initial, currently desired or currently measured water velocity. Examples of variables and conditions that can be modified include, but are not limited to, the following: velocity of the flowing water; aeration of the flowing water; presence and size or amount of a wake 106; depth, orientation, trim and position of a water displacement hull 108 relative to the pool 102 or relative to the upstream side 130 of the pool 102; position of a ski rope fixture 114 relative to the pool 102 or relative to the upstream side 130 of the pool 102; and selection of a program controlling the water sports facility 100. A program is explained more fully below.
  • [0069]
    In a preferred implementation, a terminal end of a ski rope 112 comprises one or more controls for manipulating, operating or making a change to one or more variables or conditions. In an example of a preferred set of controls at a terminal end of a ski rope 112, each of the following may be manipulated by, or activated by the presence of, a participant: (1) starting and stopping water flow from the first plurality of water pumps 160, (2) a position or depth of a water displacement hull 108 (and corresponding absence or amount of wake), (3) a velocity (or volume) of water exiting the water circulating pumps 160, and (4) activation or engagement of the deceleration water pumps 152.
  • [0070]
    In an exemplary scenario for making a change via a control, a participating wakeboarder 104 desires less drag on his wakeboard. The wakeboarder 104 then engages a control that in turn modifies one or more components of the water sports facility 100 such as the velocity of water injected at the upstream side 130 of the pool 102 by the water circulating pumps 160. In response, the water circulating pumps 160 circulate a larger volume of water per second in the water sports facility 100 and thus increases the velocity of water passing beneath the wakeboard of the wakeboarder 104.
  • [0071]
    In another exemplary scenario for making a change via a control, a participating wakeboarder 104 desires more wake from the water displacement hull 108. The wakeboarder 104 then actuates or engages a control that in turn modifies the orientation, trim, and/or depth of the water displacement hull 108 (in any of the x-, y- and z-orientations or in any of the x-, y- and z-positions) in the water at the upstream side 130 of the pool 102. More wake 106 is generated and the wakeboarder 104 is able to experience more wake 106 in the water sport facility 100.
  • [0072]
    In yet another exemplary scenario, a wakeboarder 104 is unable to land a trick, falls into the pool 102 and loses contact with the ski rope 112. A sensor or control in the handle of the ski rope 112 sends a signal to the control system of the water sports facility that in turn (1) ceases flow of water from circulating motors 160, and (2) starts circulation or flow of water from deceleration pump motors 152 until the wakeboarder 104 regains contact with the ski rope 112.
  • Variations
  • [0073]
    While the invention is described with respect to exemplary and preferred implementations, other implementations are possible. The concepts disclosed herein apply equally to other systems, devices and methods for providing an environment for water sports activities and in particular power-based water sports. Furthermore, the concepts applied herein apply generally to all water sports facilities. While wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake skating, kneeboarding or other particular sport may be referenced as an exemplary water sport for practicing the invention, the concepts, systems, facilities, devices and methods described herein apply to all water sports. A participant is able to enjoy a power-based water sport either with or without a wake regardless of type of weather, outside conditions, geographical location and time of day or night. The invention is described with reference to the accompanying figures where it is noted that characteristics and features shown in the figures are not drawn to scale unless otherwise noted herein.
  • [0074]
    While a pool 102 and a submerged return channel 202 have been described as separate elements, features or structures above, it is to be understood that the pool 102, submerged return channel 202, and connecting passages at the upstream and downstream ends of the pool are part of an overall pool or water-retaining void. The elements, features or structures described herein could just as easily be made in reference to a single pool or void divided into a top open air channel and a return channel by the floor or flooring 240. Thus, reference to pool 102 herein is for sake of convenience and is not meant to be limiting. In an exemplary embodiment as described above, the water sports facility 100 would be generally equivalent to constructing a 100 foot by 200 foot pool having a depth of about 8 feet (about 31 meters by 62 meters by 2.5 meters).
  • [0075]
    Reference is made to effluents, injecting, ejecting and circulation of water and the like. However, other terms may be substituted. Further, other mechanisms for enabling the acceleration and flow of the water in the pool 102 are possible besides the water pumps 160, 152 described herein. For example, impellers, propellers or other mechanical means may be used. The water sports facility may be either an open or closed system in terms of water and water flow. Further, reference is made to flow of water. It is understood that, where appropriate, water flow may also refer to water flow with air or some amount of entrained or accompanying aeration.
  • [0076]
    It will be understood that terms used herein, including in the claims, are generally intended as “open” terms (e.g., the term “including” should be interpreted as “including but not limited to,” the term “having” should be interpreted as “having at least,” the term “includes” should be interpreted as “includes but is not limited to”). It will be further understood by those within the art that if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is intended, such an intent will be explicitly recited in the claim, and in the absence of such recitation no such intent is present.
  • [0077]
    For example, as an aid to understanding, the following claims may contain usage of the introductory phrases “at least one” and “one or more” to introduce claim recitations. The use of such phrases should not be construed to imply that the introduction of a claim recitation by the indefinite articles “a” or “an” limits any particular claim containing such introduced claim recitation to inventions containing only one such recitation, even when the same claim includes the introductory phrases “one or more” or “at least one” and indefinite articles such as “a” or “an” (e.g., “a” and “an” should typically be interpreted to mean “at least one” or “one or more”). The same holds true for the use of definite articles used to introduce claim recitations. In addition, even if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is explicitly recited, those skilled in the art will recognize that such recitation should typically be interpreted to mean at least the recited number (e.g., the bare recitation of “two recitations,” without other modifiers, typically means at least two recitations, or two or more recitations).
  • [0078]
    Furthermore, in those instances where a convention analogous to “at least one of A, B, and C,” is used, in general such a construction is intended in the sense one having skill in the art would understand the convention (e.g., “a system having at least one of A, B, and C” would include but not be limited to systems that have A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, and/or A, B, and C together, etc.). In those instances where a convention analogous to “at least one of A, B, or C, etc.” is used, in general such a construction is intended in the sense one having skill in the art would understand the convention (e.g., “a system having at least one of A, B, or C” would include but not be limited to systems that have A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, and/or A, B, and C together, etc.). It will be further understood by those within the art that any disjunctive word and/or phrase presenting two or more alternative terms, whether in the description, claims, or drawings, should be understood to contemplate the possibilities of including one of the terms, either of the terms, or both terms. For example, the phrase “A or B” will be understood to include the possibilities of “A” or “B” or “A and B.” Moreover, “can” and “optionally” and other permissive terms are used herein for describing optional features of various embodiments. These terms likewise describe selectable or configurable features generally, unless the context dictates otherwise.
  • [0079]
    The described aspects of the invention depict different components contained within, or connected with, different other components. It is to be understood that such depicted architectures are merely exemplary, and that in fact many other architectures can be implemented which achieve the same functionality. Further, it is to be understood that one of ordinary skill in the art as to the invention described herein is someone familiar with constructing commercial swimming pools.
  • [0080]
    The foregoing discussion has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. Various features from one implementation can be combined with other features from other implementations. The description is not intended to limit the invention to the form or forms disclosed herein. Consequently, variation and modification commensurate with the above teachings, within the skill and knowledge of the relevant art, are within the scope of the present invention. The implementations described herein and above are also intended to explain the best mode presently known of practicing the invention and to enable others skilled in the art to use the invention, or in other implementations, and with the various modifications required by their particular application or uses of the invention. It is intended that the appended claims be construed to include alternate implementations to the extent permitted. Thus, the appended claims are to encompass within their scope all variations and modifications as are within the spirit and scope of this subject matter described herein.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A water sports facility comprising:
    an open channel comprising an open channel length, an open channel width, an upstream side, and a downstream side, wherein the open channel is configured to allow water to flow along the open channel length from the upstream side toward the downstream side;
    a submerged return channel comprising a return channel cross-sectional flow area sufficient to accommodate water flow in the open channel, wherein the submerged return channel is configured to receive flowing water from the open channel, and wherein the submerged return channel is configured to deliver flowing water to the upstream side of the open channel;
    one or more effluents capable of ejecting water into the upstream side of the open channel and along at least a portion of the open channel width;
    one or more water influents in the submerged return channel that provides water to the one or more effluents; and
    a participant support capable of assisting a water sport participant to resist water flowing in the open channel.
  2. 2. The water sports facility of claim 1, wherein the water sports facility further comprises a flooring serving to separate at least a portion of the open channel and the submerged return channel.
  3. 3. The water sports facility of claim 1, wherein the water sports facility further comprises a grate at the downstream side of the open channel, wherein the grate is configured to prevent the water sport participant from entering the submerged return channel, and wherein the grate is sufficiently porous to allow the passage of water from the open channel into the submerged return channel.
  4. 4. The water sports facility of claim 1, wherein the water sports facility further comprises a water displacement hull, wherein the water displacement hull is movably mounted near the upstream side of the open channel, and wherein the water displacement hull may be partially or fully lowered into or removed from the open channel by operation of an actuator.
  5. 5. The water sports facility of claim 4 wherein a position of the water displacement hull is controllable by the water sport participant.
  6. 6. The water sports facility of claim 1 wherein the open channel is of a uniform depth along the open channel length or along a width of the open channel.
  7. 7. The water sports facility of claim 1 wherein a velocity, a volume or a velocity and volume of water is adjustable by the water sport participant or water sport operator.
  8. 8. The water sports facility of claim 1, wherein the water sports facility further comprises:
    a controller capable of programmatically controlling a velocity, a volume or a velocity and volume of water from each of the one or more effluents independently of one another.
  9. 9. A method for providing a wake to a water sport environment, the method comprising:
    flowing water into the water sport environment at a rate measured in volume per time;
    providing a water displacement hull capable of being in the flowing water;
    providing an actuator for adjusting a position of the water displacement hull relative to the flowing water;
    providing a controller that is capable of controlling the actuator for adjusting the position of the water displacement hull relative to the flowing water; and
    causing a wake with the water displacement hull when the water displacement hull is in the flowing water.
  10. 10. The method of claim 9, wherein the method further comprises:
    providing an actuator for controlling the rate measured in volume per time, wherein the controller is independently capable of controlling the actuator for controlling the rate of flowing water measured in volume per time.
  11. 11. The method of claim 9, wherein the controller is accessible to a water sport participant.
  12. 12. The method of claim 9, wherein the method further comprises:
    ceasing flow of water upon receiving an indication of non-participation by a water sport participant.
  13. 13. The method of claim 9, wherein the method further comprises:
    ejecting water against a circulation of water in the water sport environment upon receiving an indication of non-participation by a water sport participant.
  14. 14. A method for simulating conditions for a water sport, the method comprising:
    ejecting water from a plurality of effluents at an upstream side of an open channel for use by a water sport participant and sufficient to allow the water sport participant to at least partially plane upon a surface of water in the open channel when the water sport participant resists a flow of water in the open channel;
    directing water from the open channel into a return channel;
    directing water from the return channel into the upstream side of the open channel; and
    drawing water from either the open channel or return channel to supply water to the plurality of effluents at the upstream side of the open channel.
  15. 15. The method of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises:
    aerating at least some of the water at the upstream side of the open channel prior to directing water from the open channel into the return channel.
  16. 16. The method of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises:
    directing at least some of the plurality of effluents at the upstream side of the open channel toward a center region of the open channel.
  17. 17. The method of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises:
    detecting an indication of non-participation by the water sport participant;
    ceasing ejection of water from the plurality of effluents at an upstream side of an open channel; and
    ejecting water against water flowing in the open channel, return channel, or open channel and return channel to slow the flow of water circulating in the open channel and return channel.
  18. 18. The method of claim 17, wherein the water ejected against water flowing in the open channel, return channel, or open channel and return channel is ejected until water flowing in the open channel is nearly stopped, stopped or flows toward the upstream side of the open channel.
  19. 19. The method of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises:
    providing a wake or water surface feature in the open channel for use by the water sport participant.
  20. 20. The method of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises:
    providing a controller to the water sport participant, wherein the controller provides at least a mechanism to adjust a volume, a velocity or a volume and velocity of water from the plurality of effluents at the upstream side of the open channel and a mechanism to control an amount of wake in the open channel.
US13009836 2011-01-19 2011-01-19 Water Sports Facility Abandoned US20120183353A1 (en)

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US20110171618A1 (en) * 2008-08-08 2011-07-14 Madea Concept Sas System for Artificially Creating the Practice of a Water Board Sport
US20160038815A1 (en) * 2014-08-06 2016-02-11 Aquatic Research And Training Technology Llc Counter current swimming apparatus

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US20110171618A1 (en) * 2008-08-08 2011-07-14 Madea Concept Sas System for Artificially Creating the Practice of a Water Board Sport
US20160038815A1 (en) * 2014-08-06 2016-02-11 Aquatic Research And Training Technology Llc Counter current swimming apparatus

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