Kelly’s Sunshine Coast wave pool misses its chance
This week, the Sunshine Coast Council acquired a 120ha land parcel from Brisbane-based Consolidated Properties Group for $6 million, halting the development of the Kelly Slater wave pool in Coolum. The land will be integrated into the Blue Heart Sunshine Coast initiative, with plans to convert it into wetlands for flood storage purposes.
The termination of this project marks the end of efforts to introduce Kelly Slater’s wave technology to this area of the Gold Coast. Don O’Rorke, chairman of Consolidated Properties Group, expressed to Urban Developer his disappointment over the inability to realize the wave pool but acknowledged the council’s commitment to flood management and public sentiment. The envisioned Surf Ranch Sunshine Coast was to feature amenities such as an eco-lodge, event venues, and residential spaces.
Although KSWaveCo technology is considered by many as a leading surf pool design, the company has encountered challenges in establishing new locations. Projects in Japan, the Coachella Valley, and Florida have been discontinued. In contrast, the company’s Abu Dhabi facility opened this month to much acclaim, introducing a novel design element aimed at improving the beginner surfing experience. In addition, Kelly said the Surf Abu Dhabi is utilizing saltwater in its pool.
The recent approval of the Parkwood project, led by Luke Altschwager and Endless Surf, has generated excitement among Gold Coast surfers, with a target completion year of 2026. The surf park is set to enhance an existing golf course in Parkwood, conveniently located a brief drive from the Gold Coast’s renowned surf breaks.
Kelly’s design is the most famous of the wave pools. The prototype transformed an abandoned waterski park in Lemoore California into the upscale Surf Ranch, the darling of the WSL and company team-building power perk for the Fortune 500 surf set. The system is a simple plow design, like Wavegarden’s Lagoon and Surf Poel in The Hague. A specially designed submerged foil is pulled down a straight track at high (or low) velocity, displacing water to create a wave that breaks along the wave pool’s specially designed bathymetry. Adjustments to the large, noisy machine temper the speed of the plow affecting the wave’s steepness and size. Unlike the Wavegarden Lagoon, Kelly’s wave plow only generates a rideable swell on one side of the track. But it is bi-directional, going in one direction to create lefts and the other direction to create rights.