Exclusive: Australia’s First Public Wave Park Is Pumping Out Waves, Looks Terrifically Fun!

by stab October 25, 2019 5 min read

Just one week after Wavegarden’s Cove technology was seen pushing surf at ‘The Wave’ facility in Bristol, UK, the other Cove pool in Melbourne, Australia, known to most as URBNSURF, has finally broken its seal.

You can find a one-minute teaser of the wave here. According to the folks at URBNSURF, they’re currently pushing the technology to 80% of its potential, so you should expect more size in the weeks to come. 

Other points worth noting about URBNSURF:

  • It’s built just off of Melbourne International Airport, making access a breeze.
  • They’ll be open to the public just in time for summer.
  • They currently have four different wave settings on the main peak: Malibu—for intermediate surfers; Turns I & II (AKA Giros I & II)—for advanced surfers wanting to practice maneuvers; and Tubos—for those who want to park it in a lengthy chlorine pit (they compare this setting to Snapper on the right or Maccas on the left) but will be working on a wider variety of wave options over the coming months.
  • With these wave settings, they have the ability to produce wave “playlists,” where they can run different wave-types in the same “set” to cater to a group of different skill levels.
  • Inside of the main peak, URBNSURF has two user-friendly take-off zones for beginner and novice surfers. One is a small peeler and the other is practically just whitewater. 

Its Pumping at URBNSURF Melbourne 8 of 10 Credit URBNSURF

We also had a few specific questions for the folks in Tullamarine, so we hit up former Stab writer, current URBNSURF exec, Rupert Partridge, for additional info.

Stab: What percentage of the machine’s capacity have you tapped into thus far?
It’s still early days, so while we’re at full power, we’re only at about 80 percent full height. We expect to be at 100 percent by early November, so we’re pumped.

We don’t get to see anybody surfing the wave in the promo clip, so how big would you say the wave is currently? Chest-high? Head? Feel free to compare it to Kelly’s wave or Waco.
We’ll be releasing footage of the first waves surfed in the coming weeks, but at the moment, we’d call the waves head-high, or 2-3ft. We’re expecting it to get bigger once the Wavegarden guys have tuned up the generator.

How long are the rides?
It really depends on the wave setting. “Tubos”, the first barrel wave we’ve received from the Spanish, is running at 12-14 seconds so far, and our two turns waves, “Giros I” and “Giros II”, are a little longer. But we’ve still got a fair bit of fine-tuning to complete, so we’re expecting they’ll run longer once everything’s dialed in.

Is there any difference between the rights and lefts?
From what we’ve seen so far, they’re pretty symmetrical. The Left’s probably got a steeper takeoff, and a stronger end bowl that bends back on you to belt, whereas the Right is friendlier at the start, but throws much harder through the middle and to the end. Once we have more wave types loaded in and have tested them all (definitely a perk of the job), we’ll know more. 

Its Pumping at URBNSURF Melbourne 1 of 10 Credit URBNSURF

Is there a “trade wind” in Tullamarine, and how does it affect the wave?
It’s been amazing to observe how different winds interact with the lagoon, the Left and the Right, and on different wave settings. Anything with a bit of North in it is offshore. When it’s blowing Westerly it can ruffle the inside of the Right, but most of the wave is sheltered, and the Left’s protected by the wave generator (vice versa with an Easterly). Victorians will be stoked to know that when it’s onshore, blowing Southerly or South-Westerly, both the Left and the Right are protected by the lagoon retaining walls, so wave quality’s not really impacted. Even at 20 knots.

How did Andrew’s first wave go?
Oroitz, one of the Wavegarden guys, sold him a lemon as to where to sit. We all gathered on the point, the first wave of the set pumped out – and he copped it square on the head. After that initial baptism though, he scored some epic, perfect ones. And all to himself, at least for a bit! We couldn’t get him off the Left the whole day.

Is your pool theoretically identical to the one in Bristol? Or are there different specs?
We’re using the same wave generating technology (Wavegarden Cove), but our wave generator’s longer with more pistons (or modules), and the lagoon is larger, so we’ll create longer rides, and can accommodate a slightly higher capacity of surfers.

Its Pumping at URBNSURF Melbourne 4 of 10 Credit URBNSURF

Oh, that fills me with glee. Now, say I (theoretically) was going to fly into Tullamarine to test this bad boy. How much would my Uber cost, or is it genuinely walkable from the airport?
We’re literally at Melbourne Airport, about a 2-3 minute drive from the arrivals hall. Once we’re open, you could grab a taxi or an Uber, or even walk if you wanted to. We’re looking at shuttles at the moment—how cool would it be to sneak in a surf on a layover, between flights? For surfers based on the East Coast, you can be down here in 1-2 hours, surf your brains out all weekend, and fly back tired and stoked, ready for Monday morning.

Now, could you break down the pricing for time in the pool? How much is it per hour, is there a day-rate, etc…
We’ll have surf sessions (1h), surf lessons (1h and 45m) and all-day spectator passes available, along with memberships, gift cards, and other products to suit the needs of our guests. We’ll be announcing all of our products and pricing in November.  

Its Pumping at URBNSURF Melbourne 10 of 10 Credit URBNSURF.jpg

The only problem is, board bag fees can add an unnecessary tax to this transaction. Will you guys be partnering with a company like Awayco to provide boards on-site, will you have your own boards available for use, or will people have to bring their own equipment?
We’ll be running our own hire store on-site with boards, wetsuits, fins, and hardware from leading brands. We’re going exclusively EPS for our hardboard fleet, they just perform better in the lagoon, and you can drop length and literage quite dramatically – I usually ride 6’2” and 32L, but I’ve been riding a 5’10”, 27L DHD rounded-square and it’s been awesome. We’ll have two options for hire, 2 hours and all-day, and with the all-day option you get unlimited swaps of boards and hardware, so you can try as many as you like. But you can also bring your own boards and gear, as much as you like. The lagoon’s the perfect testing ground.

And when will you be officially opening to the public?
In Summer 2020. We’re making incredible progress with our building, amenities and landscaping, and will be announcing our public opening date in early December.

We heard that you’re going to be open 24/7. Is that true?
To start, we’ll be opening from 6am-10pm in Summer, and 9am-6pm in Winter, but we’ll change this up based on what our guests want. When the mercury in Melbourne pushes 40 in January and February, imagine night surfing under lights in boardies! Mental.

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