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WSL pulls the plug on Kelly’s West Palm Beach wave pool

It’s not easy to see a wave pool through from artist rendering to clicking turnstile. Just ask Greg Webber who has been through trying to build a wave pool for well over a decade since airing those tempting circular sketch ups. Now the World Surf League, even with all their muscle, technology and branding, is pulling the plug on its West Palm Beach, Florida project.

“The WSL is disappointed to confirm our decision to cancel the development of the wave basin planned for West Palm Beach, Florida,” the company said in a statement. “These projects are complex and in many ways without precedent, and we have learned important lessons in this process.”

The company announced plans for the Florida sister wave to the Surf Ranch in 2017. The West Palm Beach project would have facilitated a massive 16-acre surf lagoon surrounded by several buildings including a learning center, surf club and training hub.

Artist mock up for the NLand Surf Park design
NLand surf park in Austin will be converted to a Kelly Slater Wave Company facility if all goes according to plan

The application stated the project would have created more than 300 jobs and pumped $33 million into the economy. However, citing the high water table and a series of “unforeseen challenges” the WSL decided to tank the project.

What those unforeseen challenges are can be any one of a number of things. As wave pool makers will tell you that building a wave pool is fraught with pitfalls (although they might not say this in front of investors). Of those, permitting seems to be the biggest.

A Florida news station reported that homeowners in the area of Kelly’s proposed wave pool, as well as the Sierra Club, raised concerns about water pollution, traffic and crowds when the plans were announced two years ago.

One process that seems to be working is using a facility that already has a body of water, like the Palm Springs Surf Club is doing. The BSR Surf Resort went into a previously established cable park facility. As well, the first KSWC went in at an abandoned waterski pond. On a successful note, KSWC will be taking over NLand’s facility in Austin Texas.

The WSL are not the only ones to fall this May. Urbnsurf lost its Perth location just weeks before digging began.

“We are moving ahead with several other locations for wave systems powered by Kelly Slater Wave Technology,” said the WSL. “And remain committed and very excited about what this technology will mean for the future of surfing.”

The WSL said they look forward to maintaining strong relationships with Florida.


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