For now it’s a mud pit in the middle of some post oak woods in a rural area near Axtell east of Waco — a long way from Malibu.
By summer, it will be a multimillion-dollar “surf ranch” where you can catch an 8-foot wave or watch a surfing competition.
BSR Cable Park is planning Texas’ second inland surf park, complete with white sand, digitally controlled waves, and surf pros teaching lessons.
Among the first in line for lessons is owner Stuart Parsons, a champion barefoot skier who opened the Barefoot Ski Ranch as a cable-driven wakeboard course in 2012.
“I tried to surf one time, about 10 years ago at Newport Beach, and I stood up for maybe one second,” Parsons said. “It’s pretty humbling.”
The BSR Surf Ranch follows on the heels of the 14-acre NLand Surf Park that opened last month in Austin to national attention from outlets such as the New York Times and Houston Chronicle.
The BSR facility would be slightly smaller at 5 acres, including 2 acres of water.
But many surfers may prefer the McLennan County facility, said Bruce McFarland of American Wave Machines, which is installing the computer-controlled, air-based wave system.
“This will be bigger and better-quality surf,” McFarland said. “We have more control with our technology. We can combine pieces of waves and create shape and amplitude. Ultimately, the goal is to find surf like you’d find at an ocean with a nice beach environment.”
The lagoon will have a bottom of clay topped with a plastic liner. The edges will be covered with 3,000 tons of white sand hauled in from Kosse, Parsons said.
“We want people to come in and bring their kids and play at the beach and build sand castles,” Parsons said. “You’re going to see blue water, white sand, cabanas, a really nice beach, something you wouldn’t expect to see in Waco, Texas.”
Parsons, who also runs Parsons Roofing, has worked with his family to turn part of a 500-acre ranch into a multifaceted water destination. In the past few years, the facility has added cabins, a restaurant and a 3,600-foot lazy river.
In 2015, BSR added a 120-foot water slide, called the Royal Flush, that became a viral internet sensation through a video that was viewed millions of times.
Parsons said that video created an international following for the park. This summer, the park saw 8,000 to 12,000 visitors a week, making it one of the biggest tourist draws in the county. Most of the visitors were from outside the Waco area, from places such as Dallas, Houston, even Europe, Parsons said.
Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau marketing director Carla Pendergraft said BSR already contributes to making the Waco area a tourist destination. The surf park should mean even more business for restaurants, shops and hotels as people come here for vacations and surfing competitions, Pendergraft said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a facility for skilled athletes,” she said.
McFarland, the American Wave Machines owner, said he expects experienced and professional surfers will be about 10 percent of the market for the BSR facility. And he said he expects them to travel.
“Surfers are always looking for waves,” McFarland said. “In the ocean, some days may be good, but other days, there’s nothing. For ardent surfers, if it’s a matter of driving or flying to Texas versus flying to Tahiti, there’s no competition.”
McFarland said he expects a boom in surf parks and in the sport itself, which will be included as an Olympic sport for the first time in 2020.