How many more defeats can the world's winningest surfer suffer?
Oh to be Kelly Slater. Rich, talented, successful, multi-national (thanks to his girlfriend) and the name behind the most famous artificial wave technology on the planet. Eyes popped and mouths gaped when he unveiled Surf Ranch, there in Lemoore, California, some five years ago.
Two of those eyes and one of those mouths belonged to Brazilian surfer Adriano de Souza whose skull had been crushed, hours after the happiest day in his life, by Slater but the rest of them belonged to fans, rivals, movie stars, businessmen and environmentalists.
A barrel. A real barrel created on demand.
The future of the newly created World Surf League, bought for free by billionaire Dirk Ziff, made instant sense. A chicken in every pot and a Kelly Slater Surf Ranch in every garage.
For sure there would be developments built around the eleventh world wonder scattered near and far. Multi-million dollar developments, smiling faces, barrels, shopping, ice-cream, etc.
Five years on there are none and Kelly Slater’s Wave Company’s arch-rival Wavegarden, featuring fun surf (“fun” said with a rising tone like “I don’t know, it was fun?” by people who have surfed them) is busy in talks for many projects including the just announced Willow Lakes in Fort Pierce, Florida.
According to TCPalm, a digital subsidiary of Treasure Coast Newspapers,The $595 million venture will feature 800 residential homes, 600 hotel rooms, 400,000 square feet of retail space and 125,000 square feet of office space across 200 acres. The first phase of construction is to focus on a $40 million surfing center, which will include a “Wavegarden Cove surfing lagoon” and resort which will be comprised of several distinct neighborhoods, knit together by a network of walkable, pedestrian-oriented streets, and navigable flow-ways designed for maximum environmental and recreational purposes.
“Willow Lakes and the surf park project, in our view, is a catalytic economic development event which has the ability to ‘move the needle’ on our collective efforts to enhance Fort Pierce’s reputation as a premier tourist destination and further diversify our growing economy,” Pete Tesch, president of the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council, wrote in an endorsement letter about the project. “As we enter the ‘new normal’ and the post COVID-19 environment, this important project will have a historically significant impact on our community.”
Very exciting for Wavegarden.
Very un-chill for Kelly Slater’s Wave Company.
And how many more utter defeats can Slater have before becoming a gadget punchline like Archie McPhee’s Yodeling Pickle?
Much to ponder.