As a land-locked Londoner, fulfilling your ocean needs can be tricky, especially when the closest thing to feeling a sea breeze might be finding yourself unfortunately close to a sweaty man on the tube.
My most recent attempt at fulfilling my nautical needs was to an outdoor flowrider, which instantly became my favorite London expedition, as it enabled surfing in the city. But imagine the principals of a flowrider bought to life on a much larger scale, where artificial waves could be manufactured every minute to your specifications, and up to 11ft.
These man made wave machines are slowely appearing across the world, with the Wave Palace at Siam Park, Tenerife and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park being the most famous. But the newly opened Wadi Adventure in Al Ain, United Arab Emerates is proving to be quite an impressive bit of kit. All aspects of the wave can be programmed to challenge a surfer on an Olympic level. There are currently six settings – break wave right, break wave left, break parallel, two separate half waves, a V-out and a V-in. The actual height of the wave can be adjusted anywhere from 1ft to 11ft, which dwarves the 3ft waves the aforementioned parks previously boasted. These wave machines are not just for children, with pro-surfers flocking to the UAE to try it out.
With the recent Olympics, many where asking when or whether surfing could ever be a part of this global sport competition. Perhaps this new wave machine could present the possible missing link between the two?
The ISA (International Surfing Association) believe that artificial wave machines are the only way forward, as all conditions can be controlled, ensuring a fair contest for each surfer. They say- “If surfing is included as an Olympic sport, it will be great for surfing, of course. More importantly, however, it will be a great contribution to excellence and relevance of the IOC’s Summer Games and the Youth Summer Games. Recent experience has shown the IOC that the inclusion of a core youth sport has been a great boost to the health of the Winter Games. The incorporation of snowboarding as an Olympic sport immediately made the Games cooler for teenagers. It was a win/win situation for all stakeholders. The incorporation of surfing will be an additional great step in that direction. On the competition side, the ISA believes that Olympic surfing will, of necessity, incorporate man made waves. By standardizing the waves for surfing competition, the luck factor of getting a certain wave in the ocean will cease to become a sometimes important factor in determining the winner or loser of a surfing competition.”
What do you think? Is part of surfing’s unique beauty that connection with nature, where every wave is different and unpredictable? or is any surfing better than no surfing, and these man-made waves provide great practice so you’re ready when you get to go and experience the real thing?