New Tech: For $200K you can have your own wave pool
While most of the world’s surfers know brand names Wavegarden, Surf Lakes and American Wave Machines, Walter Bennett and his company Swellspot have flown under the radar these past few years. The soft-spoken Virginia entrepreneur is a veteran in the wave pool game, having been baptised in wave production roughly a dozen years ago.
First appearing in a few artist renderings for in-the-works-projects, we talked to Walter to find out more about this system that could become a major player in artificial wave generation.
As with any entrepreneur worth their salt, Bennett talks a good game. During our interview his brand messaging hit all the major selling points of the Swellspot system. The most prominent of which is price.
“For what I can build the pools for compared to other companies, well it’s better to stay under the radar,” said Bennett. “I believe we have the best wave technology and best surf system in the world that checks off all the boxes. (i.e. quality of wave, frequency of waves generated, PLC control of the waves, cheap to build, feasibility, low cost to operate and maintain, and also targets multiple skill levels from beginners, to intermediates to advanced pro surfers. And our surf system can be built in very small foot prints.”
Bennett says this will translate to $30-$35 per hour sessions at one of the five wave pools he plans to launch in 2020.
To build his empire Bennett has stacked away five patents (with two pending) with claissifications like Plunger Wave Technology, Rip Current Mitigation, Water Basin Construction and Artificial Reef Technology. What do these titles mean?
“It is different than any other technologies on the market, because the other technologies focus on pneumatics with (chambers), plow type or wing foil type technologies, pumps or large air blower technologies to create their artificial waves,” he added. “Their systems are very costly to build, operate and maintain.”
While guarded of the tech, he would admit that the waves for Swellspot are produced by a mechanical modular system that uses hydraulics to push out several plungers to create swells that travel across a pool then break on a customised reef. Waves can be as frequent as one every 12 seconds and range in height from 3-to-6 feet. One single swell will pass through several breaks in order to increase the number of surfers in the surf lake at any one time.
Without a full-scale test pool and photos, it’s still just speculation. But Bennett assures us it’s all legit and he is holding out on the finer details because he’s worried someone will swipe his concept. But more importantly he says he wants to launch his technology to the world like Kelly Slater did in 2015 – taking the internet by storm on a sleepy pre-holiday weekday.
If Walter’s system should prove itself to be as custumizable, cost-efficient and cool (food trucks to cater the parks!) then the wave pool world is about to be set on its ear for one big reason in particular – you could have your own private wave pool for the same price as the average American home.
His group is breaking from many of the wave pool companies today in that Swellspot will help fund your wave pool.
“We have a little different business model than our competitors. Our focus is not really to build surf pools or surf parks for other people. We prefer to partner in a project. Where we bring the technology piece and we also build the facilities, then we have a land partner and a financial partner in the project.”
A 1.1 acre Swellspot wave pool with four separate breaks will cost $1million. A 2.2 acre facility will cost just a little more. The only thing you need to provide is the land, and 20 percent of the cost of the pool in cash. Bennett says they will finance the rest.
“We are in this for the long haul and want to set up annuities in various projects across the world. With our cheap cost to build a surf facility with high revenue out put, many developers and investors love to partner in our business model.”
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