Kerry started Planet alone in 2000 when he bought the first 10 Ha from villagers. A few villagers chose more wives and some bought motor bikes, but many bought more fertile land further north. Greg Wollf joined in 2005 and Craig Webster replaced Greg in 2015/16. Kerry is very fond of the early days and the adventure, new friends and difficult/remote conditions. He thanks his daughter Julia for joining in the fun and Moira Healey who has been doing bookings for more than a decade. She ruined her new Italian high heels in the mud track from the beach on her first ever trip to Indo. Now she is the one who looks after the local women and the villa accoutrements.
The ubiquitous Dr and Prof Black … how do we describe him?
Entrepreneur? He was the first person to ever design, build and patent a wave pool with hollow waves. At Orlando Florida, his 2-3 ft barrels were about to be scaled up to 5-6 foot when the Global Financial Crisis in 2007/08 scattered the frightened US investors. He also invented, patented and built the world’s first adjustable “floating” reef for a surfing pool. Then he invented a new wave machine. Then he patented the best shape for a surfing pool. Kelly Slater is just a late-comer! Sure, Kerry also designed the world’s first multi-purpose reef for surfing and coast protection on the Gold Coast. One surf magazine said, “There’s God, there’s Mother Nature and there’s Kerry Black”. His latest reef is under construction in 2017 at Pondicherry, eastern India.
Inventor? Well, he has invented and patented more than 8 ideas that led to major improvements in surfing pools and the way we manage our beaches. Many of the patents went global.
Scientist? Kerry has published over 500 scientific documents on beaches, coastal oceans, harbours, reefs and more. He developed the first computer models of ocean currents and sand movement in Australasia. He now ranks in the top 7% of all global scientists on the prestigious website ResearchGate. Kerry was Professor at Waikato University in New Zealand and chief scientist at the respected National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, and head of a Research Institute in Melbourne. Kerry went straight to the top academic job of Professor at Waikato Uni, with no previous university teaching experience. No slogging his way up through the ranks. He is still publishing and is highly sought after in global scientific studies.
Surfer? Well, he first surfed empty Uluwatu (Bali) with a mate (and watched the infamous Gerry Lopez) in the early 70’s on the way back overland through Afghanistan/Pakistan from Morocco. He did manage 7 mobile home trips along the Aussie, Euro and Maroc coasts, each 6 months long. There were 10 years every weekend at Bells Beach/Vic coast and 23 years around NZ and Raglan’s lefts. In Hawaii for 2 years, he surfed and nearly drowned at some of the world’s best breaks on the North Shore. And he first came to Ekas in 2000 to fall in love with the empty perfect waves. If surfing alone at Ekas qualifies, then he may be a surfer.
Hotelier?His incessant Indo friend Ajab said “Buy land”. Kerry looked at Planet land to quieten his friend down. But the perfect surf alone on arrival and the phenomenal view from where the restaurant now stands could not be denied. Planet was born. In 17 years, Kerry was pushed as the resort grew bigger from a bamboo platform in the old Imba tree behind the massage room, through Jati to Villa Surf. Yes, it’s now a full-scale 4-star resort. His systems behind the scenes, ability to lead and survive in a difficult and lonely location and his wonderful “strong love” of the locals might qualify him as a hotelier.
Architect? Who needs one? Kerry is the engineer, architect, planner, shopper, designer, landscaper (there’s more!) at Planet. Thanks to Craig Webster for his help in 2016/17 and to Greg Wolff at Ocean Heaven in 2005/06.
Aid worker and community? Prof K has been the developer and leader of three large NZ AID projects in India and two in Indonesia. Small communities have gained employment through marine-based activities. For many years, Planet was Kerry’s personally-funded AID project. Kerry still believes that the best outcome from Planet has been the chance to foster and employ so many lovely people (and the surf!). Now, he’s helping to regenerate and sustain India’s degraded beaches writing National Guidelines for Coasts under Climate Change.
Parent? One beautiful daughter, Julia Lee Black, who has grown up perfectly. He says it’s the mother’s doing.
Friend, comedian and loud singer? Yes.
Lover? Ask Moira Healey.