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The Future of Surf Parks

By: Commentary by Spencer Spellman, Surf Park Central, with words from Laylan Connolly, OC Register

That’s a wrap on Surf Park Summit 2021, and what a Summit it was. More than 200 of the best and brightest in the surf park industry, from surfing legends to wave technology innovators to real estate developers, descended on La Jolla for an incredible two days of keynote talks, presentations, panels, and networking. Andrew Thatcher, VP of Business Development at Endless Surf, perhaps put it best, “We’re at the embryonic stage of the surf park industry. How could you not be stoked?”

It was 8 years ago when the Orange County Register covered the 2013 Surf Park Summit. Laylan Connelly’s article posed the question, are surf parks the waves of the future? As Connelly wrote, “There are already several “standing waves” around the world in resorts, shopping centers and surf parks. But the wave movements in those facilities don’t mimic the ride of a real ocean wave; in many of them, the wave stays in one place.”

Fast-forward to 2021, and wave technology that mimics the ride of a real ocean wave has made its way to surf parks and new surf park developments around the world. Many surf parks and numerous wave technologies are now mimicking ocean waves, creating surf experiences that are getting closer and closer to the real thing. A recent NPR article covered BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas, where head-high waves, powered by American Wave Machines, are generated by compressed air.

Rendering of one of California’s newest surf park developments, DSRT Surf Resort.

The Future of Surf Parks Is Here

Surf parks have even now gone mainstream. In ABC’s new television show, The Ultimate Surfer, some of the world’s top up-and-coming surfers trained and lived together at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch, competing for the opportunity to make the WSL Championship Tour. In The Ultimate Surfer finale, Zeke Lau and Tia Blanco took home the grand prize of $100,000 and a chance to surf three WSL events next season.

What does this all say about the future of surf parks? The Orange County Register just published another article by Laylan Connelly about the future of surf parks. In it, Connelly explores the future of surf parks in California:

The waves of the future are here, some at existing surf pools and others planned for the Coachella Valley, just a few hours away from the Southern California coast. Sure, there’s plenty of purists who refuse to pay for waves and prefer the ocean as their playground, but with more wave pool options on the way, many surfers can’t help but be curious about the novel waves to come.

Laylan include a number of quotes from Surf Park Central’s Managing Partner, Chris Kluesener, who discussed existing wave technology and some of California’s current surf park developments.

Whether or not wave pools will pop up along coastal California is unknown, though Kluesener said he’s heard of no less than half a dozen discussed. Look out at any crowded lineup dotted with surfers for an indication on how a wave park would do in surf-rich areas, he said.

“You can see,” he said. “There’s plenty of demand.”

Arguably the most telling evidence of the future of surf parks comes from the young generation of surfers. 14-year-old surf phenom, Erin Brooks, shared the stage at Surf Park Summit with surfing legends like Ian Cairns, Shaun Tomson and Shane Beschen.

Erin likened surf parks to skate parks, where you can practice things over and over again, generating confidence, skills and knowledge that can then be transferred to the ocean. Hear more from Erin below.

Join us for Summit 2022! We’re already planning for what will be a bigger and better Surf Park Summit 2022.

Check out more of Laylan Connelly’s coverage of surf parks below, as well as her story of recently surfing at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch.

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