A Texan wavepool! Or, just another dream?
Words by Lucas Townsend America’s first commercial Wavegarden will open 2016 in Austin, Texas but when will this damn game of torment really end? According to Austin Business Journal, Doug Coors, of Coors Brewery fame, is listed as the CEO of NLand Surf Park, the biz behind the construction of a 160-acre wave park which […]
Words by Lucas Townsend
America’s first commercial Wavegarden will open 2016 in Austin, Texas but when will this damn game of torment really end?
According to Austin Business Journal, Doug Coors, of Coors Brewery fame, is listed as the CEO of NLand Surf Park, the biz behind the construction of a 160-acre wave park which began pouring cement in April. On Thursday (US time) Doug will announce its soft launch in October/November, and public opening in the new year.
So, here’s what you need to know: The site is right near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the pool is 350 metres long and 150 metres wide. It’s 50 metres longer and 30 metres wider than the Surf Snowdonia project in Wales, UK. It’s the same technology as the Basque Country’s Wavegarden, but the ride length is 18-ish seconds. There’ll be two peaks. One breaks at the top of the pool and runs into a closeout midway. The second peak will then stand up and run the remaining length of the pool. And, waves will be about head high.
And this is all just super until we take a step back and look at how long we’ve been having this glittering carrot dangled in front of us. By we, I mean the surf press. Stories about the future and perfect man-made waves and the fucking new dawn have been swirling around the digital realm for years now! There was that beautifully awkward rivalry between Kelly Slater and Greg Webber over IP theft which got us, well, nowhere. Then Dubai happened and it’s kinda like a gutless wedge, and Melbourne toyed with a fully functional wave pool under its skyscrapers, and really all we’ve had is false promises, with zero KPI results.
The fantasy of a chlorine playground is a big, juicy piece of clickable meat and hell, I want it to be as tasty as it sounds. But at the moment, the only winner here is every wave company milking every surf media outlet as their marketing pawns. Bravo.
Doug Coors manages an investment fund worth roughly $100m. There’s a branch of their company called Coors Tech and over the last 10 years they’ve been investigating over 1000 different technologies to establish their feasibility with the goal of backing it and making a shit-ton more cash.
They decided the Wavegarden tech was legit. It solved an immediate problem (over-crowding), it’s instantly developable because the Basque tech works (although still private), and there’s no competition. Yet.
Sure, this story is completely contradictory of its merit. But you still clicked on the meat, didn’t you. But let’s just be realistic for a second. I have never seen anything that resembles a perfect man-made wave break. Still. Nor have I ridden one. I’ve seen pros fight for speed and drive on a prototype and a few kinda wavepools. And everyone is saying they’ve got a site; Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Perth, Austin, Wales. But who’s got an actual wave I can actually surf and actually practice my mediocre turns on?
But, why’s the race so hyped? Because whoever is first will have a monopoly. This won’t be a supermarket scenario where two or more wavepools fight on the same turf. It’s a sports stadium model. There’ll only be enough consumer demand for one development in each major city. Be the first to open your doors with a sustainable economic model too, and don’t be surprised if fat cats from United Arab Emirates, India or China have you on first-class tickets to their ‘approved’ site and a $10M-plus cheque to blow.
But until I’m hurtling down the line under starlight with a cocktail in one hand, a GoPro in the other and my digital coach is critiquing my bottom turn, I do not care anymore for your games of torment.
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