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Kelly pumps out plan to score in the sand and scrub

In the California desert between the towns of Thermal and Palm Springs, a distance of 30 miles, surfers will soon be able to sample no less than four wave pool technologies. If all goes well, American Wave Machines, SurfLoch, Wavegarden and now Kelly Slater Wave Company will be pumping out desert waves in the next few years.

This week KSWC technology announced they will be the centerpiece of an ambitious project in La Quinta. The wave pool will begin construction in early 2021 with an estimated completion date sometime in 2022.

The $200Million development at Coral Mountain will combine hotel, housing and adventure sports in an area already approved for an 18-hole golf course. Big Sky Wave Developments (founded by avid surfer and son of Charles Schwab) is the financial know-how behind the wave pool and is banking on homeowners and weekenders choosing Kelly’s brand of wave over golf.

“I originally invested with Kelly in 2013 for my own personal surfing progression,” Michael Schwab told the Associated Press. “I knew that if I had a repeatable, perfect wave I could get better. I had no idea the impact it would have on my life, and I realized immediately that I had to share this opportunity.”

It remains to be seen how the La Quinta KSWC technology will differ from the Surf Ranch facility. Check this clip for insight into the technology from Rob Machado

According to developers, the surf park will be surrounded by a high-end 150-room hotel and 600 homes priced between $1Million and $5Million. The project will also offer other adventure features like a network of ponds for flatwater SUPing and electric hydrofoiling. No details were provided regarding homeownership and wave pool access benefits.

On and off the wave pool radar for quite some time, La Quinta eyed various technologies. The project has the benefit of being on land already approved for an 18-hole golf course and homes. The Kelly developers say the surf park will be the same residential density as the previous plan but will require less water than the approved golf course.

DSRTSurf will use Wavegarden Cove technology like The Wave in Bristol

Peeling, spitting, desert mirages


Coachella Valley is fast becoming a wave pool Mecca. The Palm Springs Surf Club, DSRTSurf and a proposed wave to the south in Thermal all plan to take advantage of nearby surf-stoked urban densities. All four locations are roughly a two-hour drive from both Los Angeles to the west and San Diego to the south.

DSRTSurf will use Wavegarden Cove technology, Palm Springs Surf Club is rumored to be using Surf Loch and the Thermal project has signed on with American Wave Machines.

But not all wave pool projects in the desert are gold. In 2017 Hawaii-based Honokea Surf Villages & Resorts announced they were buying land in Indio as part of a $100million wave pool development using undisclosed artificial wave generation technology. The group behind a recent Oahu wave pool proposal has since been silent on its desert prospects.

How does the Kelly Slater wave pool work? Check this super clued-in clip and learn.

Kelly’s technology

The Kelly Slater Wave Company debuted its jaw-dropping technology to the world in December of 2015. Since then the Lemoore prototype has hosted WSL events and will soon be ground zero for a reality TV show.

But Kelly’s tech does have its critics, mostly due to user capacity issues and cost.

The Kelly Slater Surf Ranch in Lemoore produces a 45-second barreling wave. The consensus is that while it’s an amazing wave to surf, the frequency of the waves and user-capacity prevent a pedestrian-access price-point. Currently, entry to sessions is only available via a whole day Surf Ranch rental which runs between $30K and $50K per day depending on the season. At that rate, the cost-per-wave breaks down to between roughly $250 and $450.

We’ve yet to see how the KSWC La Quinta technology will differ from the sister site in Lemoore and the upcoming development in Austin, Texas. But Slater and crew are excited about moving forward.

“We chose to do this project because it allows us to further build on our technology and also because one of our founding partners, Michael Schwab, is heading up the group running the project,” said Kelly in a statement.

“We’re excited to make another KSWaveCo design and I’m personally excited to create a new wave that will be a stand-alone design that nowhere else in the world has. This can become the blueprint for new developments around waves and surf parks going forward and is in line with some of my original ideas from when we started this project. I can’t wait to get underway.”

Main Image by CCY Architects. (Note: Image has been flipped horizontally)


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