JHSF Partnership Projects Pay Off
By Jeff Clementson, San Diego Business Journal
For Solana Beach-based American Wave Machines (AWM), Brazil has been a swell of business opportunity.
The company this year is delivering its most ambitious PerfectSwell Surf Pool projects to date in partnership with Brazil-based holding company and real estate developer JHSF.
AWM and JHSF in July held the grand opening for Boa Vista Village – a 370-acre residential development located in the countryside 60 minutes from São Paulo, complete with 18-hole golf course, tennis structure, organic farm, and anchored by a PerfectSwell pool surrounded by condominiums, spa, retail store, clubhouse and a beach resort.
“JHSF pioneered this kind of residential development with a PerfectSwell Surf Pool as an amenity,” said William McFarland, AWM head of business development and son of AWM founder and owner Bruce McFarland.
Boa Vista Village is a project four years in the making, McFarland said, and although some buildings like the hotel and retail mall are still under construction, residents of the development are now moving into the housing surrounding the six-acre body of water that serves AWM’s wave technology.
“It’s our biggest pool by a factor of two – twice as large as any other one we’ve done,” he said.
In creating Boa Vista’s surfing area, AWM worked alongside the project’s architects Sig Bargamin and Pablo Slemenson in coordinating the development of everything within the six-acre framework of the surf pool.
“It’s been rewarding working with the technical team at JHSF,” said AWM Lead Engineer Miquel Lazaro Cordero. “We achieved an amazing result and look forward to working with JHSF on both creative and technical aspects to continue creating the best and most beautiful surf venues in the world.”
The technical aspects of AWM’s second collaboration with JHSF – a development in the heart of the city of São Paulo – are “non-typical,” McFarland said.
The São Paulo Surf Club will be part of JHSF’s Real Park development, that in addition to housing the city’s first surf club, will also include luxury residential towers and 20,000 square meters of retail. The residences will have access to the surf club and a 25,000-square-meter private beach.
McFarland said the project is the same business model as Boa Vista, a wave pool and surf club as an amenity for the residents, with the key difference being that the apartment buildings are vertical towers that “sit above the waves.”
“There’s still a beach area, but we are building this in a much smaller footprint … custom designed by our engineering team to fit into less acreage,” he said, adding that the wave pool will still be “highest performance specification wave” that AWM offers.
The São Paulo Surf Club will also be situated next to one the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Estaiada Bridge.
“I think [the club is] going to become a symbol of the city, being right there next to the bridge, and with Brazil being the absolute leader in surfing right now as far as world champions, competitions and fervor – they just love surfing,” McFarland said. “I think this project will be huge for us.”
More Development Opportunities
In addition to the two projects in Brazil, AWM’s international reach includes an existing wave pool in Japan, with another one in the works that will be “a luxury vacation destination with a high-performance specification pool,” McFarland said, adding that the company also already has license partners in Australia and Portugal. “We’ve got a lot of good momentum going forward in both of those countries right now.”
In total, AWM has built “about a dozen” of its standing wave technology pools since its founding in 2000, McFarland said. It has completed four of its more advanced PerfectSwell pools since developing the technology in 2018. McFarland said the pools range between $15 million for “bare bones” to $75 million to build larger-scale projects like the ones in Brazil.
In the U.S., the company’s next PerfectSwell pool is going to be built in Edgewater, Florida.
“It’s our dream project,” McFarland said, adding that the new pool will feature all the technological advancements the company has made and is designed as “a surf enthusiast destination” with the “best possible wave for the most avid surfer.”
“Our technology is favored by surfers because it feels exactly like surfing in the ocean and surfers would describe as ‘punchy and strong,’” he said.
In addition to expanding its technology into new locations, AWM is also looking to expanding its business model. Currently, the company licenses its technology to developers like JHSF who want to build a pool as an amenity for residents or to companies looking to open a pay-for-surf business.
McFarland sees a “growth path” for AWM in opening its own surf pool venues and then scaling them to many locations.
“That’s something we’ve been working on over the last couple of years. I think it’s a possibility and something we’re really excited about because I think there’s a market and room to scale. And that’s what one of our company visions is right now,” he said. “The numbers are there. Our venues are successful, and it’s been proven, whether it’s a real estate amenity or a pay-for-surf environment or a resort environment. We can apply the technology to a lot of different business models.”