Will there be a wave park for surfers in Knokke-Heist?
And can Lakeside Paradise win the Westtoer "innovation award" with this?
If it were up to Frank Vanleenhove...he submitted a proposal to the city council to allow surfers to surf on artificial waves, in a real wave park, specially built for that purpose. This project would not only attract local surfers, but also visitors from the surrounding countries and the whole world.
The project was named "WaveLake" and was not received negatively by the Mayor and the College of Aldermen, the sports department and all the other actors involved, such as Sport and Tourism Flanders, BOIC, Wind and Water Sports Flanders, etc.
WaveLake was also selected by Westtoer and nominated among 17 other candidates to win the Innovation Award, a prestigious project set up to allow dynamic coastal entrepreneurs to go through a process that creates new DNA, seasonal expansion and extra incentives to keep the coast alive for four seasons.
You can vote and share here: https://www.dekust.be/nl/inspiratie/innovatiedossiers-profit
Frank Vanleenhove: "I have been following the evolution of such surf parks for almost 10 years now, and there are currently several surf parks in the starting blocks all over the world. I was lucky enough to visit and try out a few of them myself. The nearest and the world's first commercial wave park is located in Wales, UK and attracts 150,000 visitors per year.
I think Knokke-Heist is the ideal place for such a project. First and foremost, we have a policy that is open to innovation and is not afraid to make a statement with an eye to the future. We want to attract young people, tackle the experience on all fronts with great diversity, and our seaside resort is a pioneer when it comes to sports facilities and sporting events. Just look at the recent developments regarding the Sportoase swimming pool, the Stormmeeuw sports hall, the Olivier Stadium, the opportunity we were given with Lakeside Paradise...
Knokke-Heist has always had a thing about surfing: we have five wonderful water sports clubs that together have almost 5,000 members, it is the place where in the early 80s surfing first took place, where the first Belgian championships took place, the first surf academies, real surf camps were organised... where the very first surf exhibition "Surf's Up" took place, where Stephan Vanfleteren could present his successful surf exhibition Surftribe...
There are currently more surfers than places in the world where they can surf, so people are looking for solutions, alternatives... These first consisted of building artificial reefs, but that proved unsuccessful... Then they concentrated on creating artificial waves where surfers could do their thing anytime, anywhere and thus become independent of wind and weather. In the meantime surfing became an Olympic sport and the first competitions in such wave parks are a fact.
I don't want to anticipate and there is still a lot of work ahead of me, but yes I do believe in it. Dreams are made to come true.
The first step, however, is to get the award to see how much surfing lives on in Belgium. You can vote until 30 October and then we will see.
On Wednesday 20 November, during "Horizon 8300", we will have the opportunity to present this project to all interested parties in Cultural Centre Scharpoord, so everyone is welcome."