It's easy to think of Florida homeboy and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater as an easygoing, all-natural bro who alternates between charging waves and lounging in the Hawaiian rainforest.
But he's also a multimillionaire and a corporate animal, having an admitted affinity for golf and driving untold sales at companies like Quiksilver and Channel Islands Surfboards. We once witnessed him presenting Charlie Crist with a Biofoam surfboard that was made of soybeans and is partially biodegradable, but Slater also admitted that, "when you think of all the toxic chemicals and the waste and fumes [that go into surfboard construction], I'm not the most environmentally sound person."
The latest idea from Slater is more corporate-minded than eco-friendly -- a giant wave pool that's designed to be the centerpiece of a theme park or resort.
The just-revealed website for the Kelly Slater Wave Co. shows a rendering of what the park would look like: a small man-made island with a giant circular moat around it. Hydrofoil generators will be used to create surfable swells in the moat. Popular Science has a good explanation of exactly how this sucker would work. The wave could be adjusted according to a surfer's ability. Says Slater's website: "For beginners, it's small approachable whitewater waves, a boogie board, or soft-top with top-notch instructors available. For the advanced, it's a barreling wave that challenges deep tube riding and aerial acrobatics, pushing the limits of performance. But for all, it's a spectacle, with memories that last a lifetime." The site notes that 196 million people visited the world's top 25 theme parks in 2011 and that water park attendance grew 35 percent since 2006.
As for one of these wave pools actually getting built, looks like that's most likely to happen in Australia, where investors have started feasability studies to see if the project would work.
Florida tourism officials better start worrying -- when they build one of these in Sioux Falls, all those Midwesterners won't need our beaches.