• April 16, 2024 1:51 AM


THE Sunshine Coast is in the running to be home to Australia’s first surfing wave pool to be opened within the next 18 months.

The $13 million next-generation wave pool will be the central element of a $40 million tourism development.

Creator Greg Webber of Webber Wave Pools was tight-lipped this week about the location for the venture which is being backed by Noosa financier David Baird, saying only it would be somewhere between the Gold Coast and Noosa.

A decision is expected within the next month but it is believed the Gold Coast is out of the running and a final decision will be between Ipswich and here.

Mr Webber confirmed talks had been held with Sunshine Coast Council. The proponents have also held discussions with Ipswich and Gold Coast councils.

He said the wave pool would open before the 2015 Christmas school holidays.

It will generate eight waves a minute or around 480 waves an hour at heights of between 1.65m and 1.82m.

That compares with the one wave every two minutes produced by pneumatic systems and the two waves a minute produced by the Wave Garden design.

Mr Webber, a surfboard manufacturer from Avalon in Sydney said the cost of energy to produce a wave in older systems had been beyond the market’s willingness to pay.

His system, developed over the past 10 years and a lifetime’s fascination with waves, can produce a 15 second ride for under $1 in energy costs.

That will allow the wave pool to operate profitably charging $35 for an experience that would include

“10 beautiful waves where no-one hassles you”. Every ride will be filmed with surfers able to buy a recording of their session.

Sunshine Coast elite surf coach Ian Portingale said a wave pool on the Sunshine Coast would provide aspiring athletes with excellent training facilities and also help bring more young kids into the sport.

He said it would also be a huge boost for the region’s schools’ surfing program.

Intermediate surfers would also have the opportunity to improve their skills on mechanically perfect waves enabling them to perfect manoeuvres.

Mr Webber said the wave pool did not attempt to recreate nature and the beautiful settings in which surf could be found but fitted the modern lifestyle.

It guaranteed waves of consistent quality something that was either impossible or difficult and expensive to find in the natural environment.

The wave pool is an elongated oval in shape with a central island around which four hulls on rails move continuously underwater setting off a boat wake angled to create perfect, barrelling waves.

Surfers who wipe out will be pushed to the edges by the white water. There is no backwash.
Mr Webber describes himself as a “bit of a wave nut”.

He became fascinated as a 10-year-old with the movement of energy through water and would muck around in Sydney’s Rose Bay making sand banks of differing shapes to catch the ripples of swell and create waves.

Later he would drive a run-about close up to sand banks in the Clarence River at Yamba where there was a steep drop off.

“If I could find banks where shallow water drops away quickly I could quickly create ridiculously faultless waves,” Mr Webber said.

“We’ve scaled up progressively since then over the past seven years working with the Australian Maritime Centre in Tasmania and Delft University in Holland..

“We’ve done scale testing and CFD analysis as well as experimenting in the river with a fishing trawler making one metre waves. We did 700 runs doing that.”