Tunnel Vision Wave Park
TV is gonna be a little bit mid-century modern, a sexy joint in the middle of nowhere, between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Meet: The Man Funding The Webber Pool!

Ben Mackay is the skater-surfer realising Greg Webber's decade-long dream…  

Yesterday, I made a telephone call to Ben Mackay, the Queensland skater-surfer whose skateboarding fortune is helping to fund a Webber wave pool midway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Ben, who is thirty-nine years old, made his cash riding a wave of retro-futurism with the self-designed Penny skateboard, which was named after his sister.

Ben says the pool idea came after another day stuck miles from the beach with four kids under seven. He lives at a joint called Loganholme a hotter-than-hell suburb bisected by two big highways.

Wouldn’t it be…something… if there was a wavepool nearby?

When you’ve made a significant hunk of cash like Ben it doesn’t have to be a dream, especially right now in this odd little epoch where every stone kicked over reveals another pool design.

So Ben, who surfs good enough to know the name Greg Webber, finds the Webber Wave Pools website and sends an email. Greg happens to be in Byron so Ben drives down, tells Greg, who’s had a couple of false starts with other companies, that they should work together on this first pool and “show your technology to the world.”

Why Webber and not Wavegarden or Slater? I tell Ben that I believe it’s very bullish to build a wave pool, to drop ten million plus without a working prototype? Did you even inspect the other designs? Isn’t there a grain of rash curiosity in there?

Ben tells me he didn’t have to, that Greg’s twelve years of working on it, the thousands of field tests, the live models, the testing at the Uni of Tasmania prove that his design works.

“There’s a back story going on for decades,” he says. “I went to Byron and we thrashed it out. Greg’s a good dude, he has a big vision. As a surfer the science felt right.”

Ben believes in Greg, believes in the design of a linear loop using a kelvin wake as opposed to a soliton wake to create the waves. The difference, at least in layman’s terms, is a soliton wake is created by pushing water; the kelvin wake comes off the back of the foil.

Bow wake (soliton) or stern wake (kelvin). One pushes, soliton, one compresses, kelvin. Greg and Ben believe kelvin wake is going to create the wave they seek.

More details.

The pool is going to sit on twenty acres of the land and will measure 271 by 140 metres.

The foil will do one loop, creating, say, the right; stop, reset, and come back the other way as a lefthander.

The design of the pool is going to be inspired by the wonderful Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. To that end, he’s engaged Brisbane architects BASE.

Right now, there isn’t a plan to include rock climbing or skate or whatever else is being wrapped into those other parks.

“We just want to make a brilliant wave. That’s our focus, our tunnel vision,” he says.

Cost per wave, per session?

“We’re not retarded. We’re commercially minded. Why would we push people away (with high prices)? We want to attract people. We’re normal human beings.”

So normal that Ben has been training five days a week at boot camp so he’ll have the legs to test, and test… and retest… his new pool.

“Massive training,” he says.

Visit Tunnel Vision Wave Park’s website here! 

My favorite new surfer, Tomas Hermes, looking chic and exclusive.
My favorite new surfer, Tomas Hermes, looking chic and exclusive. | Photo: WSL/Steve Sherman

Pro surfing: The Brazilian drizzle!

It's a gorgeous low pressure system!

Years ago, I can’t remember how many, a brash, talented, kinetic crew of Brazilians rose to the top of the World Surf League née Association of Surfing Professionals rankings and threatened years of domination. A very much younger Gabriel Medina won first followed by Adriano de Souza and it was going to be years and years and years of Order and Progress with nary a stars n bars or southern cross to be seen.

Then John John won and people forgot all about the “Brazilian Storm.”

But let us look at the class of 2018 Championship Tour rookies. Let us carefully examine.

-Jesse Mendes from Guarujá, São Paulo, Brazil

-Tomas Hermes from Florianopolis, Brazil

-Yago Dora from Curitiba, Brazil

-Willian Cardoso from Florianopolis, Brazil

-Wade Carmichael from Avoca Beach, Australia

-Griffin Colapinto from San Clemente, California

I am not good at math but that looks to me like 2/3 of the fresh faces hail from down under North America and I feel Jesse Mendes and Yago Dora will actually soar, joining Filipe and Gabriel in the perpetual top ten very soon. My personal favorite of this crew is Tomas Hermes. He seems very chic. Very exclusive. Getting back to my point, though, if 2/3 of the incoming rookies are Brazilian this year, and 2/3 are next year and 2/3 are the year after that then the tour will officially be 2/3 Brazilian.

The forecast for a “Brazilian storm” may have been oversold but it sure does look like we are on the front end of a low pressure system sure to bring clouds, with the possibility of drizzle, for years and years and years.

Do you like inclement weather? Are you excited or are you racist?

Advice: “Self-motivation is overrated!”

John John Florence shares pearls of wisdom!

I just received the most wonderful gift in the mail from my dear friends at Hurley. It is a small, neatly bound book titled A Field Guide to Waterman Things by John John Florence. First, I am overjoyed that John John has moved into adulthood keeping that second John. I recall a few years back he toyed publicly with the idea of dropping it and being John Florence. I wrote an article for Surfing where I upbraided him for even thinking such things and that it is very important he remain John John not John for reasons I can no longer remember. He, anyhow, listened and is now a published author like me.

The field guide has three main sections, Land, Sea, Surf and Next. Each one is a valuable glimpse into John John’s thinking about this or that. You can purchase at select surf shops and all proceeds go to Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Sunset Beach Elementary. A perfect stocking stuffer and let me share a bit of wisdom John John gives us for how to surf waves we have never before surfed.

He says:

-Watch from the beach for longer than you normally would.

-Paddle out and let a few sets go by while observing.

-Surround yourself with friends who will push you. Self-motivation is overrated.

-Have someone video that first session.

-Walk away if you are just not feeling it.

All good advice except the video part but the most valuable is “Self-motivation is overrated.” I think this is completely true in all areas of life and not just surfing. How many times do we lazily fail in our quests because no one is there to say, “Don’t be a pussy, bro.”? How many times do we pull our punch because no one we know will see? I think “Self-motivation is overrated” is my mantra for the new year and it should be yours too.

Let’s group-motivate each other instead! And what should be our first mission?

Family is love!
Family is love! | Photo: @gabrielmedina

Revealed: “Medina kisses his mom!”

And saves struggling company while he's at it!

BeachGrit promises to be anti-depressive. You must know that I try my very best to bring you daily doses of good cheer but often veer uncontrollably toward the dark. Like Andy Warhol killing Billabong’s bottom line. Or a young boy’s dream of making the World Surf League’s championship tour and then losing everything. Or the continent of Australia turning its back on its current best female surfer in the world Tyler Wright. And that was just last week.

But hope springs eternal and this morning I bring you a story of good cheer. Gabriel Medina, well coiffed Brazilian pro, is buoying a near-bankrupt Brazilian company. And when was the last time you read about an investment in a surfer actually paying off in any way, shape or form? Maybe not for a decade and let’s turn to Bloomberg for the facts.

Oi SA has been treading water in bankruptcy proceedings for 17 months, but the Brazilian phone carrier is finding some inspiration from the country’s top surfer.

Gabriel Medina, a front-runner in the World Surf League, will vie for his second title when the 2017 season wraps up this month in Hawaii. That’s good news for Rio de Janeiro-based Oi, one of Medina’s main sponsors, which was quick to celebrate his latest victory off the coast of Portugal at the end of October. “Oi invests a lot in surfing,” Medina said. “It’s awesome. I’m really pleased.”

Oi needs all the help it can get. The company has been bleeding customers, including more lucrative users on long-term contracts, for 12 straight quarters. As its networks sit neglected and Oi struggles under $19 billion in debt, surfing and skateboarding offer a cheaper sponsorship alternative than Brazil’s most popular sport: soccer.

The nature of surf contests, which last for days and only run in optimal wave and wind conditions, makes them more popular on mobile devices, making it an obvious fit with Oi’s wider business model. More Brazilians stream live surf competitions than any other nation, consistently surpassing the U.S. and Australia, said Bruno Cremona, Oi’s head of sponsorships and events.

“Oi may have identified the need to strengthen its image by looking for something new to show that it’s changing, leaving behind the outdated image of a company full of problems,” said Mauricio Turra Ponte, a professor of marketing and sustainability at the Escola Superior de Propaganda & Marketing in Sao Paulo.

Image aside, plenty of problems persist behind the scenes. Marco Schroeder, whose office was decorated with four autographed surfboards, quit as Oi’s chief executive officer on Nov. 24 after trying to reach a recovery deal with creditors while clashing with the board. Less than two months earlier, Oi’s chief financial officer also resigned.

The company lost 10 percent of its wireless users in the 12 months through September, and Schroeder had regularly warned that it needs to get out of bankruptcy protection and speed up investments in its network if Oi wants to stop the subscriber rout.

Surfing allows Oi to stand out more than if it had invested in more mainstream sports with bigger sponsors competing for the spotlight, said Ponte, the marketing professor. The athletes themselves also project a wholesome image — Medina regularly travels with his whole family to surf contests as far away as Fiji — which contrasts with the counterculture overtones the sport has in the U.S.

“Medina’s image is very favorable. He’s handsome, well-behaved, he kisses his mom,” Ponte said. “Everyone would like to invest in a person like this.”

If you are not not anti-depressed now then you simply have no heart. Also, I had absolutely no idea what Oi was until now.

So you swing open the gate and this is the first thing you see. Or someone upside down, head-first into the vinyl reef. Either way, a blast! | Photo: Tunnel Vision Pty Ltd

Oowee: This is what the Webber pool looks like!

The fabled Webber tank inches a little closer!

On Thursday, the details of the soon-to-be-built Webber wave pool were leaked from a council pre-development meeting.

To recap: the company Tunnel Vision Holding Pty Ltd, which was founded by the skateboarder and surfer Ben Mackay who made his cash with the retro-skateboard company, Penny, was chasing approval to turn 95 hectares of dirt between the GC and Brisbane into what will be called Tunnel Vision Wave Park at Stapylton.

The leak, which was reported by the Gold Coast Bulletin, took the four-month-old company by surprise and the three-man team, Jay Baikie (media), Ben (money and front-man) and Josh Neale (engineering) had to finish their branding (which is very good) and frantically kick their dormant website live.

Now, we got an interview with Ben Mackay coming tomoz, but let’s look at what you might call the known knowns.

  1. Tunnel Vision is going to get the development application to the Gold Coast City Council  “well before Christmas.”
  2. It has a twenty-year “binding” agreement with Webber for his pools in Australia. Which means, if you wanna build one in Australia, you gotta go through TV.
  3. The loop-shaped pool is going to be three hundred metres long.
  4. TV claims the pools will deliver 500 waves an hour or one every seven seconds. The foil never stops. Just keeps going round and round and round.
  5. Twenty second rides. The company compares it to getting a wave behind the rock at Snapper and all the wave through to Greenmount.
  6. TV is in discussions with Greg on how to create the “ridiculous distortions” he claims are necessary for pools not to be boring.
  7. It’s gonna be cheaper than the 80 Euros and $US60 one-hour sessions at Surf Snowdonia and NLand, the two commercially operating Wavegardens.
  8.  Once it gets approved, in come the bulldozers.
  9. That photo in the header? It’s the entry to the park. You come in and burn your eyes on pretty wedges.

Will it happen or are we watching more piss on more trees?

Well, it…is… happening.

The game, our little world, is changing…