Simulated Surf Vs Real Rollers
Surf Snowdonia in Conwy have introduced their latest attraction, Wavegarden. Wavegarden is an engineered wave pool which simulates the ‘ideal’ conditions for surfing and learning to surf. This is a good idea, in theory, but what does it mean for surfers?
Surf tourism is an ever-growing industry, likely fuelled by the growing population of surfers who live in land-locked locations. In 2013, a Surfers Against Sewage survey (try saying that quickly ten times!) reported that 46,784 of the UK’s avid surfers live in landlocked locations within the UK. Meaning that there are almost fifty thousand people who need to travel in order to get their surfing fix. The chances are high that these people will benefit from the regularity of the synthetic waves, engineered to reach precise heights at regulated intervals. The predictable nature will mean that intermediate surfers can practice technical moves such as cut backs and bottom turns in a stable environment. That is, until they perfect their technique and begin to find the routine repetitive. That’s when it’s time to recognise the beach is ready and waiting for them to take full advantage of the fluidity and freedom found in surfing real waves!
Aside from people who have to travel and arrange full holidays in order to enjoy their hobby, there are thousands of people living in coastal areas who love to surf. The Surfers Against Sewage survey reports that 52,897 surf enthusiasts resided in Devon alone in 2013, meaning that the majority of the surfing taking place in Devon was probably the local people displaying their passion. These are people who are not likely to travel the 250+ miles to attend the Wavegarden when they have the coast, with its charm and organic waves on their doorstep. Wavegarden advertises as an area suitable for all sizes and abilities, but, for those who live in coastal areas, there are plenty of safe ways to learn the basics of surfing, in a real beach environment, such as Nick Thorn Academy, right here in Woolacombe!
The Wavegarden’s redeeming factor is the guarantee of waves and ideal conditions for surfing at any level, however, the predictability of the timing and height of the waves may get a little repetitive. The engineered waves, with three set heights of 2 metres, 1.2 metres and 70 centimetres roll in once per minute – less “Surf’s up” and more “Surf’s doing the same thing over and over again”. More seasoned surfers are going to be looking for a little more excitement in their waves.
The main differences between the Wavegarden and our beautiful, natural beaches are the factors which will ultimately define the popularity of Snowdonia’s Wavegarden and the impact it has on the surf community. For more nervous first-time surfers or small children, Wavegarden could offer the perfect opportunity to get used to the feeling of bigger waves and a large body of water, but nothing will beat the real beach experience; the sand, the ice-cream, watching your family members embarrassing themselves in public… the advantages are endless! Wavegarden is nice to practice, but once you get some experience and build your confidence, join us in Woolacombe for some real surfing!
Header Image Credit: 'Wave Garden' by Nick Pumphrey