Journalism is the most criminal enterprise that man has ever undertaken Mush. Pure theatre.
My life has become very strange. I wade through the world, one-armed and milky headed even though I’ve cut off the opioids. Sober. Stone cold sober. Everything looks different, not better or worse just… strange. Odd. I watch TV and can’t suss out if they’re really true. I read pieces on the Internet and know they must be false. Like yesterday. Fate found me at The Inertia-lite safe space lifestyle website Stab reading a story titled Exclusive: Stab Interrogates the Man Behind Australia’s First Wavepool.
It featured a baby oil massage with the URBNSURF founder Andrew Ross, who is opening Australia’s first tank in Melbourne next year and my milky head thought, “Andrew Ross?” It sounded familiar somehow and so I dipped into our archives and, yes, there it was from three years ago. BeachGrit was just a naughty little baby then and so you didn’t read but here for you now, from the hand of Derek Rielly.
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.
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.
What did Mr. Ross feel? Well, he came into our naughty baby comments, if you can believe, and said:
Hi Derek, that’s sort of accurate – but I’m not sure I’m “a hardcore surfer” that “knows what surfing’s about”. I certainly haven’t run some of the biggest companies in Australia. But I have loved surfing all my life, I have two young kids that are just learning to surf, and I feel totally stoked to now be involved in a business that, for me, is a bit of a culmination of all the different work I’ve done to this point. I’m happy to have a proper chat if you want to get a better idea about what we have planned. Cheers, Andrew (PS – loved all of the stories you wrote on Aquabumps for Uge’s last Ment’s trip).
To which Derek responded:
…oh, I did feel very grateful to Eugene for sliding me onto that once-in-a-lifetime voyage, on a boat as high as the Sacré Coeur and even more beautiful, at the last minute, hence the time put into those stories.
To clarify those other points, first, about you being involved in some of Australia’s biggest companies, my notes say: “Used to run big ASX listed companies.” I extrapolated from that, one, that if a company is on the Australian Stock Exchange, it’s already among the top 2000 companies in the country. And, add a little oil in the mix, and it’s gotta be top 500. Possibly too long a bow to draw, yeah.
Two, you can blame the other bit on the harshness of the printed quote, the lack of nuance of type on screen. It’s exactly as you said it, howevs.
If there’s more to add to the story, I’ll happily snatch more quotes. Journalism is the most criminal enterprise that man has ever undertaken Mush. Pure theatre.
I spent the rest of the day chuckling to myself. Just doddering around one-armed and chuckling. It’s good, no? Also, I have not read this discussed anywhere but feel it is pertinent. The tank is being built near Melbourne’s airport which happens to be 3000000 kilometers away from Melbourne proper so they should probably say “near Sydney” instead. Just my two cents.