With Paris project industry giant WhiteWater jumps into the surf park market
Until now, the kingdom of wave pool makers has been limited to a handful of frontrunners including Wavegarden and Kelly Slater – both of whom created their systems from scratch. But what if a company that had been in the wave pool game since 1980 put its waterpark muscle behind surf-specific wave pools? That is exactly what’s happening as WhiteWater, the company that built Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon in 1989, announced today a project in Paris powered by their new surf-focused technology.
La Vague Grand will feature WhiteWater’s Endless Surf ES4800 Surf Pool at the center of the new €250million Terre d’Eaux development in Sevran Paris. The surf and adjoining beach will be surrounded by a boardwalk with restaurants, bars, and retail set below high-density residences. Incorporated into the plan are social housing within the residential development as well as family-focused aquatic amenities and free surfing access for local schools.
“Our vision is bold,” said Numa Mieli, Project Director for developers Linkcity. “Everything elevates this venue into the extraordinary, from landscaping by famous French landscape architect, Thierry Huau, to this incredible wave pool which will be open in advance of the Paris 2024 Olympics.”
The project 20 minutes from Charles De Gaulle airport originally planned on using Wavegarden Cove technology to power its urban renewal efforts in an area of Paris known more for crime, drugs and poverty than for peeling rights and lefts. At the time of the original plan, the idea was to host Olympic surfing here for the 2024 games. However, the surfing venue the Games has since been confirmed for Tahiti.
“We want to make Sevran a destination,” said Mayor Stephane Blanchet of the Sevran project at the time. “This means a change in both image and urban space. Sevran must become attractive. We have to bring people to live, work, play, and invest.”
To power this transition WhiteWater says they will feature powerful, efficient, and customizable waves backed by the company’s four decades of experience in aquatic engineering.
“Our reliable pneumatic technology creates endless rolling sets, designed for operational success; being flexible, high capacity, and above all else, safe,” explained Paul Chutter, Chief Business Development Officer of WhiteWater.
WhiteWater’s Endless Surf series comes in different footprints with the ES4800 being the largest and ES1800 the smallest. The heart-shaped pool design is scalable in size with a width of up to 300-meters (1,000-feet) in a 2-hectare (5-acre) pool and can provide up to a 26-second end-to-end ride. Accommodating up to 75 surfers at a time, waves in the pool can be pumped out every 8 seconds, but a 10-to-12 second interval is optimal according to the company.
The machine is instructed by software, dubbed Wave Doctor, a patent-protected proprietary programming interface that gives the operator the control to change the wave pattern in real-time based on the session requirements and guests in the pool. WhiteWater says Endless Surf can run multiple wave types simultaneously so that beginners, intermediates, and experts can surf in the same session.
“Our patented heart-shaped pool design has a huge advantage, it creates the best wave experience for the widest range of surfers in the water together, but in separate zones,” says WhiteWater. “The 360-degree access allows surfers to drop in from the back wall or kick back and watch the wave from the wide curving beach.”
“WhiteWater made its first surf pool, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, in 1989” said Geoff Chutter, WhiteWater’s CEO. “With Endless Surf, we introduce the next generation of surf pool technology. Our goal is to make the world’s best man-made wave, creating an authentic surf experience that enables tens of thousands to discover the thrill of surfing for the first time.”
WhiteWater is a big company. They bought Tom Lochtefeld’s Flowrider in 2014 and are responsible for 130-to-150 water-related projects each year. Since 1980 they have 5,000 projects under their belts globally.
Having a company with so much wave-generating muscle and experience enter the surf park market is a game-changer. At this point in time all surf-specific wave pools face ‘new frontier’ challenges no one has had to navigate before – from rising water tables (Kelly’s scuttled Florida pool) to broken machinery and other issues never made public. Being able to draw from experience is a big plus.
But the most remarkable thing about WhiteWater joining the surf party is that it signifies that the waterpark market now sees surf parks as a viable economic engine – a sign that wave pool surfing has arrived.