Wave pool decision could bring professional surfing tour
THE Sunshine Coast may one day become a leg of the world professional surfing tour depending on the outcome of multi-million decisions pending in the United States and in Australia.
It is understood a real push is underway for either a world wave pool tour as part of the Association of Surfing Professionals or that wave pool legs be included in the existing world professional tour.
One of the wave pool designs being considered for the $90m waterpark announced this week for the Sunshine Coast is also the subject of massive deal now being considered in the US which could reshape the world tour.
Webber Wave Pool founder and designer Greg Webber confirmed yesterday that two of his pools - one 160 metres by 90 metres and the other 200 metres by 100 metres - are being considered by the Waterplay consortium that has filed a preliminary application with Sunshine Coast Council.
To be built in two stages on a 23 ha site off the Steve Irwin Way near the Mooloolah Connection Road, the project that includes a 224-unit resort would become the region's biggest tourist attraction.
Deputy mayor Chris Thompson confirmed yesterday that council would look to fast track the development.
"I really can't comment, only to say that an investment like this is potentially a very exciting outcome for the Sunshine Coast, Mr Thompson said. "But I'll let the assessment process take its course and we'll see what comes out of it.
"Council will be undertaking all it can to fast track a decision on this one way or another because we want to encourage tourism investment like this on the Coast, but we have to treat applications on their merits and go through due process."
No contract has been signed and a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties has lapsed.
The bigger of Webber's designs can produce 1000 waves an hour - 500 with a height of two metres running 200 metres and another 250 at each end breaking on a "V-shaped" reef to one metre high.
Mr Webber said a decision on the Coast design could be months or days away.
"They're looking at other designs but they don't have the high wave rate we do,'' he said.
"They've opened the doors to other designs and that's fine. $20 million may be too large a budget chunk."
Webber flies to the US in two weeks to negotiate a national deal that been three years in the making with a "huge developer".
The deal includes TV rights and may lead to a world tour event being staged in a one-hour prime time television slot, something that's impossible to do in a natural environment.
The ASP tour was last year bought by ZoSea Media Holdings headed by former Quiksilver board member Paul Speaker and Kelly Slater's manager Terry Hardy.
Surfer Magazine reported that they in turn are backed by Floridian billionaire Dirk Ziff whose $4.7 billion fortune was inherited from his late father, publishing magnate William Ziff Jnr.
Webber would not confirm whether he is dealing with Ziff but said his design would deliver professional surfing what had only previously been dreamed of.
"We can actually make waves,'' he said.
The Webber Wave Pool design can produce either identical waves of similar height or be programmed to deliver waves of differing heights.
The technology excited Sunshine Coast surf coach and former surfing professional Robbie Sherwell who said yesterdaytues that if built here the facility would not only help develop the next generation of stars but also attract the world's best to train here.
"Nowhere else in Australia has it and the South African model is nothing compared with this,'' Sherwell said.
"If Greg's (model) gets it we'll have the best wave pool on earth and it will attract our best and the best in the world to train here as well.''