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ASB MAGAZINE: The World Surf League (WSL) have announced today they are planning to bring their Surf Ranch  and Kelly Slater Wave System technology and experience to the Sunshine Coast (QLD).  WSL and WSL Wave Co Asia Pacific General Manager, Andrew Stark revealed that together with a development partner, WSL have earmarked a large parcel of land close to the Sunshine Motorway at Coolum, 10 minutes from the Sunshine Coast Airport as the location.


According to the press release, The Surf Ranch on the Sunshine Coast will combine the Surf Ranch experience with Australian inspired architecture and culture. The Sunshine Coast Surf Ranch would include overnight accommodations and programs to explore the region and the broader world of waves up and down the Sunshine Coast.


“Australia is a core market for the WSL, and we view the Sunshine Coast as a natural home for a Surf Ranch, given its culture, history, and roots within surfing as well as its pristine beaches and commitment to environmental sustainability,” said WSL and WSL Wave Co Asia Pacific General Manager, Andrew Stark.


The Surf Ranch on the Sunshine Coast will anchor a broader tourism development district that can provide significant economic stimulus and job creation. The project would include the development of a luxury eco-lodge, event and training facilities, tourism accommodations, public open space, and an environmental experience center.


“Given the WSL’s demonstrated focus and commitment to sustainability across the globe, we want to ensure we and our partners strike the right balance between economic development and sustainable growth for the Coast,” said Stark. “For us, that means creating a green environment for the community, delivering high-value eco-tourism and attracting more visitors to the region. These are all key drivers for the Sunshine Coast and also inherent in the way we operate Surf Ranch.”


He continued, “We are committed to working with those in the local area, and over the coming weeks we will be talking to the community to explain the Surf Ranch concept, as well as listening to local perspectives.”


“We have already started (the consultation) process and I will be up there all next week,” added Stark.


Stark told local media that the only fault with the existing surf ranch in California was the rapid temperature falls through winter. As a result, the facility is only able to be used for half of the year, prompting the search for a new location. Stark explained “We picked the Sunshine Coast because of the temperatures year-round and the DNA of the area.


“We love that  (the Sunshine Coast) is very environmentally conscious, so are we, and it fits with the surf ranch philosophy.”


With surfing set to make its Olympic debut in 2020, the Surf Ranch complements the natural breaks of the Sunshine Coast, and provides infrastructure to ensure reliable, world-class waves that could be part of a Queensland bid for the 2032 Olympic Games. Stark says that the Sunshine Coast facility  would be ‘available’ for the 2032 Games but would not be drawn (if successful) on whether it would be contested in a wave pool or in the ocean.


Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said today’s announcement was a great win for the tourism industry on the Sunshine Coast. “Having seen this experience first-hand, I can say without doubt that this will be a major drawcard for thousands of people around the world,” she said.


“We know surfers are always on the lookout for a consistent break – this wave delivers the perfect barrel every time,” continued Jones. “The Sunshine Coast is one of our key growth destinations for international and domestic tourists. An attraction like this would give tourists a whole new reason to visit this region, supporting local jobs and local businesses.”


Sunshine Coast Airport Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Brodie, said the Surf Ranch facility would complement the region’s existing tourism offer. “Sunshine Coast offers some unforgettable outdoor experiences, and with existing flights from Australia’s East Coast and Auckland offering connections from America, Asia, and Europe, Surf Ranch would enhance the region’s reputation for adventure,” Mr. Brodie said.


“The region’s new runway, set to open next year, will open up more destinations, putting Sunshine Coast Airport in prime position to be the gateway for Aussie and international surfers looking for the perfect wave.”


Visit Sunshine Coast Chief Executive, Simon Latchford says that the announcement enhances the Sunshine Coasts reputation as a premium sporting destination. Latchford told local media “The Sunshine Coast is already well-established as one of Australia’s most popular destinations for water-based events and holidays, but with the Kelly Slaters name attached to the Surf Ranch, it could give our region even greater appeal internationally.


“In the past three years we’ve managed to combine our natural assets as a sporting haven with a far greater professionalism, which has culminated in Sunshine Coast unprecedented success on the national stage.


“Having a global name associated with such a high-tech surfing project could really elevate sports tourism to new levels on the Sunshine Coast, attracting international teams, training camps and surfing fans.


“While Visit Sunshine Coast is enthusiastic and excited by the project, we are very mindful it must fit the approval criteria laid down by Sunshine Coast Council and State Government,” concluded Latchford.