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Australia to get 10 Wavegarden pools?

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

A 10-year-plan to fill the vast continent with man-made waves… 

If you saw the Snowdonia Wavegarden footage that’s been everywhere, you probably thought, when’s that fun little burger coming to my part of the world?

I live in Australia (BeachGrit has bureaus in San Francisco, San Diego, Kauai and Sydney) and got in touch with the former lawyer and investment banker, Andrew Ross, who bought the rights to Wavegarden on my piece of turf.

A few questions, none of ’em real hard.

Is Australia getting wave tanks? When? And where?

Andrew Ross, from what I can tell from the one phone call to Western Australia where he lives and where the company that he set up, Wave Park Group, is based, is an over-achiever whose giddy list of achievements, included some kind of interaction with the billionaire Richard Branson, during a year off he’d taken after running some of the biggest companies in the country.

This is where Wavegarden kicks in. When he had that year off a few years ago, it was because he’d just hit 40, had a kid, wanted to travel, surf and find some kind of inspiration for the next half of his working life.

At some point, he figured he’d like to have a swing at a surfing-based biz.

“I’ve never been associated with the surf industry,” he says. “But I’m a 35-year hardcore surfer, all my mates, we know what surfing is about, we all go to the Ments each year.”

Ross liked the aroma of the new wave pools that were suddenly appearing, in theoretical form, everywhere. He’d seen the Webber pool and got in touch with Greg Webber. Then Kelly Slater’s “people.” When he was over in Europe, he swung by the Basque country to surf the Wavegarden lagoon, its proto testing pond.

He got in and, yeah, it one of those moments he says.

Taj Burrow was surfing the right (stars!), he was surfing the left, he kicked out and told Wavegarden, “I’m writing you a cheque. This is fucking amazing.”

Ross created the company Wave Park Group, brought in pals with various complimentary skills, and made a goal to create 10 Australian Wavegardens in 10 years. Ambitious?

Baby, he’s an investment banker. It seems positively… bearish! 

The website, (click here), reeks of corporate-speak, howevs, which stings the eyes. It’s like one of those forms you get when a new CEO swings into your company and he wants to know the company’s mission, it’s vision and values, all those things that are totally mainlined in the corporate world.

Here’s a taste from the site.

Values

Our Values serve as a compass for our actions.

Innovation and Creativity We are leading innovators in the delivery of man-made surfing experiences
Service We satisfy and delight our guests
Authenticity We create real surfing waves in a safe and welcoming environment
Quality What we do, we do well
Passion and Teamwork We are committed to serve our guests in heart and mind
Integrity We will exhibit fairness and honesty at all times
Prosperity We will generate wealth by growing an economically sustainable business

Whatever, it’s only the meaningless platitudes companies throw on their sites to fill the obvious gap of not having a product yet. But maybe soon!

Ross, who’s just been to three cities in three days, says he doesn’t want to make any premature announcements, ’cause that leads to disappointment, and he’s right, and won’t until the first site is secured and the Development Approval has gone through whatever regional planning authority it’s dealing with.

That said, “we’d be disappointed if we don’t have something to people within 12 months, potentially quite a bit shorter than that,” he says.

What interests me, is the parks are going to be owned by Wave Park.

He ain’t sub-letting the Wavegarden technology.

They’ll buy or lease the site, buy all the Wavegarden pieces that’ll then be shipped to Australia, it’ll all get put together, a few months of testing, and away it goes.