Is Slater’s Wave Pool Opening to the Public?

A new permit application hints at potential public events in the future

Slater, tucked into his exclusive (for now) artificial tube in Lemoore, CA. Photo by Glaser

Since its unveiling in December of 2015 – a moment that the set the internet ablaze, shocking the surf world and subsequently kicking off what feels like a wave pool space race – things have seemed relatively quiet at the site of the Surf Ranch, save for the occasional web clips of the world’s best making their freshwater pilgrimage. But it’s clear that the 11-time world champ has grander plans for his technological wonder.

In May of 2016, the World Surf League acquired a majority stake in Kelly Slater Wave Company, ruminating in a press release on the possibility of developing the Surf Ranch's technology into "a global network of WSL-branded high-performance training centers." In June that same year, a KSWC-designed wave pool facility was among six proposals considered as part of the city of San Diego's plans to revamp its downtown-adjacent Seaport Village. Then, in March of 2017, KSWC submitted a proposal to build a Surf Ranch facility in Palm Beach, FL, roughly 100 miles from Slater's hometown in Cocoa Beach.

As far as the original Surf Ranch is concerned, however, it seemed that the facility would remain a test site for research and development rather than a commercial wave park. Until yesterday, that is. According to a permitting application obtained by The Hartford Sentinel, significant upgrades to the original Surf Ranch are in the works that could allow the Lemoore-adjacent facility to be open to the public and host large-scale events.

According to the article, the permit application states: "Operations under this SRCUP will permit up to six events per calendar year, including recreational and competitive surfing events, and ancillary music performances during a two-to-four day period (i.e. Thursday through Sunday evening). Event operation time will be from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Attendance is estimated to be up to 8,000 guests per day, over a two-to-four day period. Temporary bleachers, sound equipment, and lighting equipment may be setup for events and live music performances. Parking will be provided on site during the events. Contracted services will include traffic control, security, temporary lighting, potable water, portable toilets, wash stations, and trash services for each event.”

Does this mean that we can finally pencil in Lemoore, CA, for our next surf trip? Maybe not so fast, but if the permit is approved, regular surfers could be that much closer to testing out Slater’s dream wave for themselves.