7 foot and perfect, every single day. Say it three times to yourself and then think about it …
Ok, good. Sounds pretty much like a dream come true, right? Yea, same here.
Well, sometimes dreams become a reality.
This summer a marketing campaign has been launched by four New York surfers, in hopes of spreading the word about an idea to bring a man-made wave to Long Island. Talk has been stirring around the idea since the announcement of the project, and anything that has to do with a wave pool coming to New York we have to know about. So we did a little digging.
What we found was a site that needs a little branding help, but more importantly a pretty cool, achievable idea that could change the surfing world in America forever. On top of that, here’s what else we dug up through the good ol’ who, what, where, when, why and how method.
Who: Long Island Surf Park
Four dedicated New York surfers are looking for the ever sought after un-crowded, consistently perfect wave that can be ridden at anytime.
What: Long Island Surf Park is New York’s latest surfing endeavor looking to bring perfect waves to Long Islanders 365 days a year by means of a man-made recreational surfing pool and country club.
Where: Somewhere on Long Island
When: When funds are in place and ground is broken, if that happens. Could prospectively be done in 1-3 years.
Why: To give New Yorkers the opportunity to surf a perfect man-made wave whenever they want, at a royalty membership fee to the park.
How: Crowdfunding efforts, investors and memberships.
After some digging, we found this was enough information to get us wondering if this could actually be a reality or not. Our next move was to hear it from the ‘horses mouth,’ so we reached out to Long Island Surf Park to see if they could fill us in. They were delighted to hear from us and gladly let us know what is going on, for us to share with all of you, of course.
In doing so, we recently caught up with Co-Founder of the project Brett Portera. He filled us in on the logistics of the project, the inception of the idea and told us what it is going to take to make the United States’ first artificial wave designed exclusively for surfers. He broke it down for us like so.
It all started with an idea.
From what Brett told us, the idea for Long Island Surf Park was born from a trip he and his father took to Orlando, Fla.
“My dad (CEO/Founder Chris Portera) told me we were going to rent out Typhoon Lagoon for two days. So, we went and did that and it really got my dad thinking about the whole idea,” Portera said.
A Surfing Magazine video from Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
After surfing two nights in the Typhoon Lagoon wave pool at Disney World, where they first experienced the feeling of surfing a man made wave in all its glory — at night, with their personal choice of music and 120 waves all to themselves — the father-son duo started toying around with some ideas. They started looking into the idea and doing some market research to see if a wave pool in their native area of Long Island was realistic. They came up with few business models and after a few years, started proactively pursuing the idea.
This is a business, right? How will it work?
First they came up with a business plan on how the park will operate. The park will be like a country club at a golf course, in which you sign up to be a member at a royalty fee. There are different tiers in the membership platform based on pricing, and with each level of membership you get a different package depending on the one you choose. To see what each membership package entails, click the memberships tab on the Long Island Surf Park website, and check it out.
By purchasing a membership, the surfer will have access to perfect, un-crowded waves year-round, and on top of that, a state-of-the-art surf focused facility to use. The facility will be outdoors, and the pool will be heated to 65-70 degrees fahrenheit year-round, even in the winter. At the facility, members will be provided with offerings such as the option to purchase lockers for onsite board storage, or permission to bring a number of friends to surf the pool based on what tier membership they have. To go along with the opportunity to surf perfect waves on a daily basis, features of the park will include a restaurant, bar for post surf beers, and a pro shop, just like you would see at a country club, with the latest gear, apparel and from what we have heard, advice from a house pro by the name of Leif Engstrom.
Long Island Surf Park is so stoked to have Leif Engstrom @leifnotleaf on board with us. He is an unbelievable surfer and we can't wait to see what he can do in the pool! Check us out at Longislandsurfpark.com to learn more about our project. If you or someone you know is interested in possibly becoming a member or an investor please visit longislandsurfpark.com/contact and fill out the form so that you can be added to our email list! #surfing #longislandsurfpark #longisland #wavepool #surfpark #always7ftandhollow
Hurdles and Criticisms.
Other than what many have considered high price-points for memberships and some negative feedback from hardcore ocean surfers (is that what we are going to call regular surfers now?), who say the park takes away from the true nature of surfing, this all sounds pretty great on the surface. Is it actually realistic though?
To make this happen there are a few things that need to be in place. The main thing Portera explained was that members and investors are the main priority right now. Without the financial support and more importantly the consumer interest, the wave park won’t happen. In saying that though, Portera expressed his confidence in their efforts thus far.
“Basically, we put together a preliminary business prospective for this whole thing and we know a couple of guys, who aren’t necessarily surfers, but who are all golfers, who understand the whole thing (how the country club system works), and were very interested in it. At the time the first conversations were taking place, we didn’t have a prospective member list or anything, so they wanted us to go out and populate a list before anything moved forward, to see if there was a demand for this sort of thing. So with the launching of the website, all the social media and by just starting to do advertising — it all ties into making that membership list and that’s what’s really going to make this thing happen. Say we get half, we can go back to the investors and show them there’s a demand for this and we can really get going,” Portera said.
Prior to launching the marketing campaign to bring on members and investors, the founders did their market research and what they found were numbers that were quite astonishing. Some numbers that make you think this could really work and other ones that make you think, not so much.
First let’s take a look at the non-so-trustworthy numbers. Portera suggests he has had about 30-40 emails from people whom have reached out to be members from the organic reach of word of mouth and the newly implemented marketing tactics, and about 50 who have verbally confirmed, who make up friends and family of the four founders. Which, to us, sounded a little skeptical, keeping in mind that the project is still very new. The next numbers are the ones that got us thinking.
“We ran a data search of people in the Tri-State area who make over $250,000 a year that are interested in surfing or are surfers (based on consumer data), and in that range there were 81,000 people. We figure we’ll get a very minimal percentage of that, but then we knocked that income level down to people who make over $100,000 and it came back at 390,000 people. So we know there are people out there, it’s just getting in front of them at this point,” Portera said.
With that being said, this thing isn’t going to cost as much as people are thinking. Technology years ago would have made this thing super expensive and inefficient. Technology now brings costs to build and operate down, so right now the founders have projected that the park will only cost around $7.35 million to build. I say ‘only’ because by East End standards, it isn’t the most expensive number in our area, see here for proof. Which is why the founders of Long island Surf Park think they can really make this dream a reality. With a few investors and a couple hundred members, the wave park can be the surfer country club of the future, right here in New York.
The biggest expense is going to be the land, which is where location comes into play. Property prices are a big factor. Location will ultimately be decided based on two balancing factors: how much the land costs and where the consumers are predominately coming from. If more members are coming from western Long Island then the pool will be closer that way, the East End, towards us (hint, hint) and central, well you get it, all while nailing down the cheapest, most strategically chosen land they can find in the desired area.
“Regardless, of where it is, think about it … if you were told you could drive anywhere from 1-3 hours to surf a 7 1/2 foot perfect wave every 15 seconds by yourself, would you do it?” Portera said.
Yes, Brett we probably would.
What’s the wave going to look like?
Up to this point, the park is looking at a number of artificial wave manufacturers. The front runners at the moment are the Spain based company known as the Wave Garden, and the domestic manufacturer American Wave Machines, as well as a few undisclosed companies that have kept the news of interest hush-hush. The Wave Garden recently opened a wave park in Snowdonia, England making them the world’s first ever public wave pool designed and used specifically for surfing, and they have plans to open more in the near future including one in Austin, Texas. While American Wave Machines, and the few others who chose not to have their named mentioned, have had plans to open parks on US soil for years.
Video of professional surfers at the, now closed, Ocean Dome in Japan.
All of the options have their perks, and the decision won’t be made until things are finalized and signed on the dotted line. What we can expect though is a varying wave shape. There will be wave sizes and shapes for people from the beginner level, slow gradual rolling waves for surf lessons and novices, to the most advanced level, a 7 1/2 foot barreling wave every 10-15 seconds like this (shown above, minus the backwash). In doing so, this will allow a number of surf events to take place. Events such as surf camps and lessons, as well as professional surf competitions and production shoots for big name surf brands, among other purposes.
At the end of the day, Long Island Surf Park just went public a few short weeks ago, and there is still a lot of ground to cover before we are surfing in the pool. Until then, our surfing dreams will remain dreams, and we will just have to cross our fingers and wonder if it will ever realistically happen. From what we gathered in our interview with Portera though, the future looks bright and we can’t wait to see what comes of it all.
For those out there looking for more information, or who want to see this happen and can’t just cross their fingers and wait, become a member or invest by heading over to longislandsurfpark.com or shoot Brett Portera an email at LIsurfpark@gmail.com.
7 1/2 foot and perfect. Every. Damn. Day… keep repeating it to yourself until it happens because, again, sometimes dreams do come true.