Artificial waves for surfing are clearly a hot topic, but very controversial. Definitely, it seems that everything new is viewed with a bad eye ;) Check our article about surf-foil.
So when Luka called me to go ride one hour from my home on the biggest static surf wave pool in the world, I could not miss this experience.
Yes you are not dreaming, the biggest artificial wave in the world, Guinness World Records certified, DA WAVE, is located next to Avignon, south of France! It is able to generate waves of 3 meters high with a big barrel.
Icing on the cake : Wave Island, has a new wave pool for surfing. The perfect trip to get an idea of the different types of artificial waves.
THE FEELING ON A SURFING WAVE POOL
Once there, we started with the wave pool, which is the exact replica of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics surf events training wave.
The concept is a continuous artificial wave thanks to the rebound of the water on the bottom of the pool, allowing to surf on an infinite single wave. The big advantage is to be able to surf traditional boards, usually foam, with small fins.
The sensation is quite confusing at first, it is hard to take its bearings on the wave. The weight distribution is different compared to surfing at sea but little by little we took the shot.
A session usually lasts 30 minutes with 4 riders who relay as soon as the other falls. Luka quickly takes its marks and shred beautiful curves. The local teacher, who welcomes us, Paulin, obviously shows us with ease what we wanted to do !
Then we went on DA WAVE which consists of throwing water against a wall thanks to huge pumps system. With the ability to control power, we used here flowboard, specific boards without drift, which look more like a skateboard.
Again, what a disturbing sensation ! Because nothing to do with the first pool, the water runs very quickly under the feet and the board seems unstable because we don’t use the rails as in traditional surfing.
Depending on its level and its desires, the size of the wave is variable until reaching a tube of 3.5 meters high where the locals Thibaut Bravais and Arnaud Devisy make us a superb demonstration of what it is possible to do. Luka is motivated to go stall in the bottom of the tube despite the lack of depth ! Then we ended the session with a good laugh, sharing da wave with two bodyboarding, amazingly fun!
WHAT NEOPRENE WETSUIT SHOULD I WEAR ON A SURFING WAVE POOL?
I did not know what to expect in terms of temperature but the range of neoprene Saint Jacques is there for that ;)
Luka has opted for safety with its integral STAN Quick Dry 3/2, very warm and which can dampen a little shock.
Arnaud, the local of the stage, was in board-short with his NOE long-sleeve neoprene top, good option because the pool water wave is heated. So, just a top to cut the wind is the right choice.
It turns out that our innovative range in style is particularly suited to this type of new "surf in the city" way of style.
Be careful, however, to rinse well after the session, as pool maintenance products are not recommended for neoprene.
THEN, WHAT’S THE FUN OF SURFING STATIC WAVES ?
According to me, I found it very entertaining even if I have very little found my sensations surfing at sea. It would have taken more time probably.
This type of static surf wave makes it possible to overcome the lack of waves in certain regions and makes you able to ride safely without "suffering" the vagaries of the weather.
Clearly ,if you live next door you need the subscription, otherwise you have to come and try to make your own opinion.
I especially noted that the very playful side of the thing is to share the session with friends or family, encourage each other sharing a good time. The type and size of artificial waves being flexible, everyone can take full advantage of it. Learning to surf in the safest environment as possible.
The next step is to test a wave that advances and sweeps to replicate a classic ocean wave, even if it will never replace nature.
RIDERS' OPINION ABOUT SURFING WAVE POOL
Luka Vermt-Gauchy 18 years (L) and Arnaud Devisy (A) 33 years old
(L): Surf, kitesurf, skateboard, skimboard.
(A): Wake, surf
Number of sessions on artificial wave
(A): more than 200
Your sensations in the pool:
(L): Sensations were really good. The citywave requires a slight adaptation time (15 / 20min) but once the method is acquired, it is quite easy to find the sensations you can have in surf. So, I really enjoyed finding the feeling of carves / cutbacks. The wave is soft, falling down is totally safe, so we quickly take confidence and dare to try new things.
(A): It's very fun, it will never replace the ocean but it allows me to live far from the ocean to surf every week.
Your feeling on the flow rider:
(L): So about the flow, it's a completely different delirium! Totally different compared to the city, in terms of slides and sensations. The wave is powerful and very intimidating. Adrenaline rises quickly when you start the fifth / sixth pump (big barrel 2m / 2m30, the vision is crazy). In terms of sensations, it's a mix between skimboard and skateboarding. The wave is longer to master because more technical. At the falls, it stings. You have to know how to fall well ...
(A): The flow rider is a bowl of skate with 1000 horses sending 80M3 of water on the bowl ... It is very lively as slips but very difficult to master.
Your preference between the two waves:
(L): Quite difficult to choose... I will say the City to feel the surf, and the flowrider for a big dose of fun and adrenaline looting against this powerful barrel.
The difference with surfing at sea:
For the flowrider, no resemblance at all, excepting the sight from the tube. Otherwise, for the citywave, the sensations are similar to surfing at sea for curves, 360 ... The section does not break so no rollers possible.
(A): I do not have one, it's really two different sports.
Do you recommend it or not? For who?
(L): I recommend it 100%! They will not replace a real session but they allow to find some sensations and fun when it's flat. They are both accessible to the general public as well as surfers, more or less experienced. Finally, I would add a small precision for the flowrider, it can fits to everyone (the first pump is quite soft so the fall is not very nasty).
(A): Obviously yes, it allows everyone to try surfing without the danger of the ocean and with a coach to make you progress fast.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SURFING STATIC WAVES
- Whatever if you are for or against, wave pools have definitely entered the world of surfing.
- There are different types of artificial waves: natural like the Eisbach river in Munich, Germany, swimming pools that reproduce this natural movement like the Glassy house in Vendée, the Flow riders who throw water on a wall, unfurling waves like the one of Wave Garden in the Basque country ...
- It seems to have a technological and commercial war started between the different market players.
- The Olympic surfing games will take place in a wave pool in 2020.
- Generally equiped with modulable power, static waves are accessible to all surfboards and bodyboards.
- An investigation about their real environmental impact will come ...
Big thanks to all the Wave Island crew !
Feel free to leave us your comments on the subject!
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