Wax up your easy-rider and polish the putter
As it stands Kelly Slater’s Lemoore surf ranch is likely the most exclusive wave pool in the world. Thus far it has been reserved for Kelly to work on his cutback, WSL events, and the odd Instagram pool party when Kelly feels like buffing out his bros. The Ranch can however be rented and the going rate is suggested to be around $US 50K a day. Plenty of high-powered corporate types have enjoyed a session at the wave pool. A couple of years ago former channel nine boss, David Gyngell, invited a few of his old Bondi mates from In The Nude Boardriders (Gynge managed the club to a tag-teams victory in his surfing heyday) to a two-day jaunt at the Ranch.
However, while Kelly will always have the best backyard in the world, Sydneysiders are set to get a taste of the Country Club surfing vibe with the opening of a surf lodge in Wiseman’s Ferry 75km to the northwest of Sydney. If you drove two hours west from Avoca ( home for CT surfers Ace Buchan and Wade Carmichael) you would wind up at Wiseman’s Ferry, a town named after a convict, Solomon Wiseman, who reinvented himself as a merchant, innkeeper, ferryman, and notoriously ruthless landowner. Solomon Wiseman was the inspiration for the award-winning Australian novel, The Secret River, and local folklore also has it that Wiseman’s Ferry is haunted.
However, if things go to plan it won’t be a secret spot, and the only spirits to watch out for will be the Pyzel Ghost model, which has become insanely popular since John John won a world title on one.
The renewable energy-powered pool is set to be the size of four football fields and will boast a range of different waves for all levels of surfing. However, one has to wonder if the clientele will influence the intensity of the waves most frequently dialed in? The Wiseman’s Ferry Surf Lodge will be run on a membership model. Although cost details won’t be released until 2021 one can assume that fees will be pretty hefty. When you throw in a golf course and swanky restaurant as part of the offering it’s easy to picture a scene where middle-aged learners pay big bucks to ride mellow rollers after a round of golf and a buffet breakfast, before retiring for drinks and cards.
Joel Parkinson and Steph Gilmore are part of the consortium led by John Du Vernet, who has been quoted as saying “As a Sydney surfer, we don’t have the access to consistent, high-quality waves all year round like other parts of Australia.” John is turning on the marketing spin but he should be aware that most places in Australia are fairly seasonal and Sydney and the nearby central coast in fact offer a vast variety of waves and are fairly consistent.
Perhaps the whole thing will make a lot of sense from a business perspective, but it certainly seems a long way removed from Australian surfing’s counter-culture roots. And we only hope the golfers can scream “Four!” loud enough when a stray ball heads towards the pool.