By: Darby Moore
As the wave-park industry continues to evolve and grow, there are increasing opportunities in upgrading existing waterparks to feature state-of-the-art wave-making technology and amenities. A prime example is the Palm Spring Surf Club (PSSC) currently being developed for a 2022 launch. The brainchild of the Pono Group and SURFLOCH, the PSCC is poised to deliver first-ever surfable barrels to the Coachella Valley, California. Scott Poehler, SURFLOCH VP of Business Development. has been an integral part of the team (which includes the likes of professional surfers Cheyne Magnusson and Kalani Robb) has brought the Palm Spring Surf Club (PSSC) to fruition.
The PSSC project is unique in that it is a retrofit of the former Palm Springs Wet n’ Wild waterpark wave pool, a site that provides both advantages and challenges. The original waterpark, built in 1986, was revamped and rebranded as Wet n’ Wild in 2013. The main advantage of placing the PSSC on an existing waterpark site is that the location was already properly zoned and permitted. In Poehler’s experience at SURFLOCH, he’s discovered that the challenge of changing the zoning of a site to accommodate a wave pool can be a timely and costly endeavor.
However, thanks to the pre-existing entitlements of the former Palm Springs Wet n’ Wild, Poehler and his team were able to construct the first iteration of the PSSC faster than a site that requires rezoning. Utilizing the versatility that SURFLOCH technology, the team created world-class waves without changing the depths, the bottom contours, or design of the former waterpark.
“The Phase 1 test tank served its purpose,” Poehler explains about the PSSC. “We needed to make waves at full-scale to prove the tech and also provide a platform for our clients to host investor surf visits and raise money for phase two of the project which will be the finished commercial product optimized for public use. Phase 2 will essentially be double the size of the Phase 1 test tank, and offer a bigger better wave with more versatility.”
The adaptability of SURFLOCH’s pneumatic wave technology allows for ultimate operational flexibility in a wave pool’s business model that has been proven invaluable in past projects. Put simply, SURFLOCH only uses air to create waves, with no need for large mechanical devices in the water. Waves are generated inside concrete wave chambers or “caissons” that are controlled separately, acting similarly to a section on a natural breaking wave.
So what does all that mean for investors? It means that SURFLOCH’s technology is driven primarily by software instead of mechanics, which equals fewer repairs and less maintenance. It also means that operators have the ability to create an endless variety of wave combinations that can be scaled up or down on demand.
“You don’t have to go big to be successful,” Poehler shared. “We can create extremely compact pool footprints that require less concrete, it’s less water, less land, and less power without sacrificing wave performance. These compact surf venues require significantly less money upfront compared to larger surf parks And that really creates a lot of flexibility in terms of potential business models.”
This flexibility is exemplified in Phase 1 of the Palm Spring project. By assessing and adapting the existing wave pool, Poehler and his team were able to generate a wave without changing the depth, bathymetry, or design of the former water park. Once Phase 2 of the PSSC is completed, the bottom contours of the pool will be optimized, and services like food and beverage will be provided.
“SURFLOCH is serving as the wave-technology provider at the PSSC,” Poehler said. “They have a very specific vision of how they want to operate and what that experience is going to be. We’ve been riding shotgun with PSSC throughout this whole process and are extremely excited to see and surf the finished product. The Palm Springs Surf Club will have a unique vibe and energy that can’t be replicated, it’s really going to be a special place.”
PSSC will soon be joined by several new projects employing SURFLOCH wave technology.
“Looking at the project pipeline now, I’d say we have around eight to ten projects under contract and hope to have multiple commercial venues operating in the next one to two years,” Poehler shared. “We also have a massive backlog of early-stage projects, some very exciting things are in the works. But we typically don’t announce a project publicly until it’s past the point of no return. We don’t like to claim a wave until we make it.”
Take a look back to when Surfloch delivered their first waves to PSSC here