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Crest Surf Clubs Aims to Bring A Luxury Private Club to the Surf Park World

With each new surf park comes a unique experience for visitors. No two surf parks are alike, whether you’re talking about location, wave technology, or the park’s amenities. This is certainly true for Crest Surf Clubs. Their first destination in Long Island, New York is currently under construction, but when it opens, it will be the world’s first private surf club.

Surf Park Central spoke to founder and CEO Brett Portera about his vision for the park, the uniqueness of the business model, and what will power the park’s waves. 

Surf Park Central: What inspired you to create a surf park?

Brett Portera: The idea to build Crest originally came from my fellow founder and father, Chris Portera. Probably around the time I was 5-years-old, my parents put me on a surfboard for the first time and I fell in love with it. When I was about 10 or 12 years old I remember being super into surfing and looking at the early stages of Surf Park Central and all the cool ideas for surf parks and the technology behind them. 

Having been a self-made entrepreneur and surfer himself, my father felt like there was an opportunity to build a surf park on our native Long Island and we would constantly talk about how it would be cool to pursue the idea one day. As I grew older and I started to shift focus on what I wanted to do for a career path I very quickly knew that building a surf park was a chance that I wanted to take. In all honesty the main motivation has been and will always be the selfish desire to surf more and become a better surfer.

For the past 15 years I have consumed myself with the surf park industry with everything from deeply understanding how the different technologies work, to the different business models, construction methods, permitting, ect. It has been a long and crazy journey but ultimately I feel that the team we have assembled is world class having a combined +30 years of experience in space and we all are united by the same goal and desire to create the best wave and experience in the industry beginning with the Crest New York project.

Surf Park Central: Can you tell me more about Crest’s club approach? What are the benefits of this rather than being open to the general public? Why did you decide on this format?

Brett Portera: Sure, Crest is meant to inspire a lux feel to surfing. We’ve taken the approach as a stand-alone private club very much akin to that of a country club or any other private club for that matter except our main amenity is the surf pool. From a business perspective, this allows Crest to run as a much more nimble operation which should in turn provide for a more manageable and scalable model. By looking to utilize a subscription based model, our costs to build and operate are arguably less and more predictable allowing for a much more attractive business case. 

From the consumer perspective, the benefits of having a private facility are tremendous. Ultimately it all boils down to making surfing more convenient because let’s be honest, there is nothing convenient about stalking Surfline and trying to rush to the beach just to find out that you should have been there an hour ago.

By building a more boutique facility we’re able to provide a much more convenient location for the majority of our customers. Our facilities don’t require an extremely large parcel of land and therefore we feel that we can be closer to major population areas. For example, our New York facility is smack in the middle of Long Island and only about 60 miles from NYC and Montauk and can be accessed by car, train, bus, or even plane/helicopter. 

Additionally, we are looking to cater to less than 1% of the number of people that your typical pay per hour facility has come through the doors each year. This means members get to surf more waves when they want and don’t have to worry about fighting for time slots.

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, our membership approach allows for the curation of a special community at each of our Crest facilities. There is something to be said for seeing the same faces over and over again and getting to know the people you share the lineup with. Our hope is that these relationships will expand outside our facilities and can translate into so much more. 

Overall Crest was never envisioned to be an old school country club with cigar rooms and dark wood interiors. Crest was ultimately born out of a vision to deliver the best surfing experience in the world and to bring together a community of surfers. This approach also allows us to focus more on the community outside of Crest. By taking our subscription based approach it means there will be less stress on ensuring the pool is filled at 9am on Tuesday morning in January and more emphasis on giving back to the community around us and not only donating time at the facility but also leveraging our community of members to bring programs and opportunities to the greater communities around us. 

crest new york surfing
Surf Park Central: One thing that makes Crest truly unique is using your own surf technology. What can surfers expect the waves to be like?

Brett Portera: Our partners at Premier Surf Systems have spent a tremendous amount of time working on the wave tech. Although I can’t share too much just yet I can give you some of the basis for what drove us to develop something ourselves.

At Crest, our members will be able to expect a technology that not only caters to all levels and pushes progression, but also the ability to customize their lineup. Whether you’re looking for a mellower setting or a screaming barrel we plan to be able to cater to everyone’s pursuit of their perfect wave. Think about all the best facets of the different techs on the market and now imagine combining those in a more compact footprint. That is what Premier Surf Systems will deliver at Crest. The height, shape, and variety of all the different techs combined into one.

As for the pool itself, members will be able to enjoy a year round outdoor surfing experience. Thanks to our partners in the energy production industry we will be generating our own electric onsite and utilizing the waste heat to keep the pool around 70 degrees in the middle of the winter. We’ve also taken the necessary design steps to mitigate any on-shore winds within the confines of the pool. 

Surf Park Central: Why did you choose this route rather than partner with an existing wave tech company?

Brett Portera: When we set down the path to bring Crest to life we didn’t plan on developing our own tech. After heavily evaluating all of the options on the market (and some off market) we felt that what was out there was good but just wasn’t suited for our location and business model. The desire to deliver a world-class wave in a small footprint is ultimately what drove us to develop our own tech. 

Surf Park Central: What other amenities will Crest have that guests can enjoy?

Brett Portera: Our phase I for Crest NY will feature the heated surf pool, outdoor lounge and spectator spaces, and a 9,000 sqft. Clubhouse that will overlook the surf pool. Within the Clubhouse there will be locker rooms, board & wetsuit storage, a concierge service, a F&B operation, co-working space, surf coaching services, a workout space, and a slew of body therapies to keep our members and their guests feeling refreshed and ready to push their surfing at all times.

We are currently evaluating a phase II which could see the expansion of the initial site and include a variety of other amenities as well.

Crest surf long island
Surf Park Central: As we’ve seen repeatedly, opening a surf park is not easy. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced with Crest?

Brett Portera: No, it is not! Anyone who says differently is either lying or hasn’t really tried to do so. For us, like most other projects, raising capital, assembling a solid team, and receiving permitting have all been challenges. With that being said we feel that we have an incredible crew around us and as we shift more into a construction and operations focus we still expect to have hurdles along the way but are confident in our ability to overcome whatever is thrown in our path. 

Surf Park Central: What does the current timeline look like for an opening date?

Brett Portera: Currently, we are expecting to be pushing first waves later in 2024 with our grand opening coming shortly thereafter. 

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