Andrew Ross is getting ready to “turn the taps on” at his Melbourne business and realise a surfing dream seven years in the making.
“We’re going to be the location where people stand up on surfboards for the very first time. We regard that very, very highly,” Ross says.
It was 2012 when he first tried a surf park, at a lagoon in San Sebastián that had been constructed “under the cover of darkness” by Spanish start-up Wavegarden.
The former lawyer and investment banker said he could see market opportunity for the tech, which generated consistent waves in a man-made structure, from “the very first wave” he rode. He wrote a cheque for an undisclosed sum to become the Australian partner for the technology and started the company Urbnsurf.
An artist’s impression of the Urbnsurf site.
Ross says the company lost about $500,000 over two years because of this.
The Melbourne Urbnsurf site looks like it will be the first to realise Ross’ long-held hopes for a community of surfing beyond the beach after a three-year process of development.
“We need to respect and honour the very detailed heritage of surfing,” he says. “The waves are one part of that, then there’s also the community.”
Urbnnsurf is hoping to tap into a large cohort of local surfers who either can’t easily get to the coast or don’t have access to safe surf beaches.
Figures from Statista suggest the number of Australians involved in outdoor recreation such as cycling and surfing is up this year, with 3.3 million participants contributing to $1.9 billion in revenue.
An exact date for the Melbourne opening is not yet known, and ticket and pricing information is still to be released.
The planned Sydney site at Olympic Park is slated for a 2021 opening, according to the company’s website.