Surf Lakes promises six-foot tubes! Building proto at "secret location"!
Soon, and by soon I mean maybe, possibly, within the next two years, Australia will have its first commercial wave pool.
The first tank will be a litmus test of whether or not spending twenty million dollars on a wave park is a brave, or very dumb, biz decision. I’ve seen the fiscal projections for one of ’em, claims of five thousand or so surfers a day, and they do appear, to my eyes, wildly optimistic. But maybe I’m jaundiced after launching a string of failed businesses (note to readers: don’t buy into boats).
Am I wrong? Plenty of bankers and so forth think so.
Because it’s a wave pool gold rush out there. First Wavegarden got its tanks in Texas and Wales, to limited success, then Kelly stunned the world and then Wavegarden Mach II rebooted and turned its little burgers into a little tube.
Rounding it all out are American Wave Pools and the German City Wave.
Today, a Queensland company called Surf Lakes announced it had hired the 1999 world camp Mark Occhilupo to be the face of their tank. The company says they’re building a prototype at a “secret location”.
Surf Lakes hopes to license the technology around the world to theme parks and resorts and property developers. If all goes to plan, a full-scale recreational surf park will open in Queensland by the end of 2017, complete with eight different waves.
One of them, a barrelling left-hander that will be 2.4 metres face height and run for about 60 metres, will be called “Occy’s Peak”
The demo facility will have the same water volume of approximately 20 Olympic swimming pools, Surf Lakes founder and CEO Aaron Trevis said, with the ultimate goal of the concept to make surfing more accessible, especially for those who don’t have access to the ocean or waves.
“99.5 per cent of the world’s population have never surfed, which is why we believe there is a significant opportunity for the Surf Lakes technology,” Trevis said.
Do you like statistics? Oh I do. If 0.5 per cent of the world’s population surfs, that means there’s 35 million surfers out there.
Ooowee, do you think investors will believe it? Or will they do a little Google and come up with a figure more like two-and-a-half mill?
Whatever, tanks are the sort of businesses that appeal to bankers who’ve made their money already, dig to surf, are entranced by the magic of wave pools (and they are magic, god yes, wonderful things, even the worst of ’em) and want to combine it all into the one fabulous lifestyle business.
Two years ago, Wave Park Group CEO Andrew Ross revealed his 10-year plan to dot Australia with 10 Wavegardens. Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, all on the drawing board and so close to realisation you can smell the chlorine, he says.
Oh it’s Bearish!
(Here’s a GIPHY of the Surf Lakes proto. Multiple that into a six-footer and I doubt any of us will be getting to our feet before being shovelled into the vinyl reef.)