Holland. Our beautiful little country. Ask anyone worldwide about it and you hear words like cheese, windmills, tulipsand weed. Not too many people start about surfing. Over the years surfing became popular in Holland just like everywhere else on this planet. Yes we miss solid ocean swells, for that we’d need an actual physical Brexit (sorry UK peeps – we still love you). Many days of the year our little North Sea is just as flat as the main part of our country is. But there are some epic days for surfing for sure. And if it’s up to Robin van Rossum, there will be waves to ride on a daily basis. Here’s his story about making waves.
We Want Waves
Surfing is Robin’s biggest passion and that’s why he chooses to work freelance. Under the name “Rob Ross” Robin is a branding specialist and graphic designer who controls his own agenda. Whenever there’s surf that’s worth the ride to the beach, he’s on it. The integration of his biggest passion into his working life led to some great new ventures like the Surf Project. A volunteer organisation that provides surfing lessons for children that have Down Syndrome, autism or ADHD.
Robin’s biggest and pending venture is realizing a wave pool here in The Netherlands. Robin always dreamt of living close to a perfect surf spot but moving to a foreign country with a proper ocean in front of the door never was a goal. Back in 2014, when he heard about the plans for the first commercial wave pool in England Robin was on it. “We need to have that in Holland too!” The start of WeWantWaves was a fact.
So in case you’re not too much into surfing, what actually is a wave pool? Chances are big you’re now visualizing hundreds of human beings cramped up together in an oversized indoor swimming pool. Waiting for another whitewash wall to slide towards them. Although the basics are the same, wave pools made for surfing are bit more refined (and way less crowded).
The first company to unveil a retail concept for a commercial surf pool was Wavegarden, located near San Sebastian in Northern Spain. They sell the wave generating technology and assist in creating the right dimensions and shape of the basin. Those are the most essential criteria to make a wave that’s surfable. In the last couple of years wave pool technology has evolved enormously and next to Wavegarden there are several other companies which all design their own wave making machine. Despite the high installation costs many surf parks are realized globally. Artificial surfing is booming.
Q&A with Robin
Back to Robin. For realizing a wave pool you need a hell of a lot of money, a big space to build, permissions and lots of other bullet points to check before it’s there. After six years of work in progress he’s getting close. Here’s a short Q&A with Robin about what it takes to make your own waves.
Dream big, Start small. But most of all…Start! (Simon Sinek)
“Im going to launch my own wave pool” – Where do you start?
“I started the adventure together with my brother in law who has experience in big real estate projects. First we reached out to the Spanish Wavegarden crew. They told us that there were no specific plans in The Netherlands yet and that they would love to meet us down the line. After doing some extensive research we found the right partner and location. (Marina de Eemhof)”
What’s your biggest learning moment so far?
“Just like the quote of Simon Sinek says: Start small but start! Do not frustrate yourself by focussing on just that one perfect way to achieve your goal. Change your habits and make sure to take your time for that. You’ll notice that your goal approaches bit by bit and you might even achieve more than you first expected. Believe in yourself, dare to choose and go for it. You’ll be happier for sure!”
And what are some of the biggest challenges at this point?
“Patience…it never has been my strongest point but it’s so important to have it in such a big project. Because we wanted to keep the control ourselves as much as possible we first took on all the legislation and construction matters. It was a swift start, local authorities were positive about a wave pool. Nevertheless it took us three years before all the permits and contracts were in.”
“Then there’s the financial challenge. Despite the fact that the bank and the valuator were impressed by our business case it was very hard to find an external investor. This year we almost signed an agreement with a foreign party and then COVID-19 kicked in. At this point conversations are picking up again so hopefully we soon can start the construction.”
“And maybe the hardest issue to deal with is that we also need to temper the enthusiasm of all the Dutch surfers. Many are aware of our project and obviously they can’t wait to surf in our pool. So far I always need to tell them to have patience, that we’re getting there. Bit by bit. I can’t wait for the day that we get a final GO on all sides so we can start making waves.”
Which wave pool technology will you use and why?
“We sat down with several suppliers and surfed different waves ourselves. Eventually we chose to go for the American Surf Loch company. In our opinion their generated wave resembles the natural ones the most. The wave is also easy to adapt in height and power. And perhaps most important: the Surf Loch tech does not require any physical movement of blocks or parts in the water to create the waves. This makes the system easier to maintain and repair. Cool detail is that several suppliers and engineers from Surf Loch itself come from Holland, so it’s a short loop.”
When do you expect to catch your first wave here?
“If the meetings with the investment party go well this summer (2020 that is) and COVID-19 remains under control here in Europe, we hope to be able to start construction this year. That would mean that somewhere down the line in 2021 our dream will come through and we’d be able to see the first waves breaking. But remember: Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting !”
Jorrit Pinckaers | commontale.com