Just when you thought Hanover County couldn't get any more awesome, now this: surfer dudes, fish tacos and 12-foot waves!
Plans for a new surf park, with real, breaking waves capable of carrying surfers weighing more than 250 pounds, are close to being finalized. Point Break Surf Park is scheduled to open in about a year, and developers are "99 percent" sure it will be in Hanover.
"I think it's a really good market for it," says Chris Sutton, chief executive of Select Contracts, a consulting company specializing in leisure, sports and tourism.
The owner of the planned park, Walter Bennett, hired Select Contracts to help market and design the project. It will include two surfing pools: one that's 50 meters wide and 150 meters long for surfing, and a smaller pool for boogie boarding and training, says Bennett, a 42-year-old entrepreneur who lives in Hanover.
White sand and palm trees will be shipped in, and the park will be under a removable dome from October to April. Bennett hopes to add a kayaking pool and a skateboarding park eventually. His plans also include a Baja-themed restaurant, two corporate meeting rooms and several birthday rooms.
But this isn't a kiddie-themed water park. The main pool will feature adjustable waves to accommodate beginners as well as advanced surfers, Sutton says. The plan is to allow free admission and then charge between $40 and $60 an hour to surf.
There are only a handful of surf parks in the world capable of simulating serious wavage, Sutton says. "The aim is to breed new surfers, to bring new surfers to the region."
Gnarly. Sutton says the money's all lined up. The park is expected to cost about $16 million and employ as many as 150 people. Sutton, who lives in Canada, is in Richmond this week scouting locations and visiting local economic-development officials.
Seven of the potential sites are in Hanover and two are in Henrico County, Bennett says, but he won't rule out building the park in Richmond. "It is the first of its kind in the United States," he says. "It's the complete beach experience."