If you take the road through Houston, Waco is about a four hour drive from Galveston, an island city on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Yet it’s landlocked Waco, deep in the heart of the Texas Triangle, which serves as one of the world’s premier surfing destinations. Surfers from around the globe have a chance to catch endless waves at BSR Surf Resort, a watersports park built by former competitive barefoot skier Stewart Parson in 2012.
When the property first opened it only featured a a 2,200-foot wakeboarding course, cabins and a bar and grill. Parsons quickly added the world’s largest lazy river, 3,600 feet of languorous bliss and opened the BSR Surf Resort in 2017. The artificial wave pool was tested out by professional surfers and almost immediately made a splash in the surfing world when a clip of pro surfer Seth Maniz performing the first ever recorded flip in a wavepool went viral.
BSR’s unique wave-making technology, called PerfectSwell, was developed by American Wave Machines. It was designed to help the Long Beach Aquarium visualize the difference between normal swells and tsunamis. Once they saw the potential of the technology, however, they adapted their technology and approached Stewart about implementing their design at his park.
PerfectSwell is capable of putting out three waves per minute in 12-second intervals, with the size, shape and direction of the wave all controlled by the push of a button. There are currently 40 different programmable waves, including a double barrel, kegging wedge, longboard wave and a special new “Freak Peak”.
The park offers onsite cabins to stay in along with two VIP Cabins, all nestled along the wakeboard circle perimeter. Visitors can fly down the 16-foot slide, The Royal Flush, and bring their own coolers and refreshments for a long day relaxing at the Lazy Rivers. There might be more in store for the park in the future, as Parsons is interested in adding zip lines and an indoor trampoline facility.
BSR’s quick rise to fame may be in part due to lack of competition, though there is a similar facility in Austin, Texas, in NLand Surf Park. Surf Ranch in Lenmoore, California, is available for those in the United States as well. Both properties are owned by Kelly Slate Wave Co.
Surf Ranch is owned and co-designed by 11-time World Surfing Champion Kelly Slater and was made to produce the perfect wave time after time, as opposed to the more ocean-like and interchangeable BSR Surf Resort style. The difference, according to US Olympic Surf team coach Chris Gallagher, was likely a factor in the Waco wave park being chosen as the team’s official training facility.
The US team will be competing in the first ever surfing event in the 2020 Olympics set in Tokyo, so this is a chance to grab the spotlight right from the start. Interestingly enough, the Australian team has been seen practicing in Slater’s Surf Ranch, so the Olympic Games will pit not only team vs. team, but site vs. site as well.
BSR Surf Resort has additionally been a stop for many wakeboarding events, including the 2012 Monster Energy Wake Park Triple Crown and the 2017 WWA Wake Park National Championship.