May 28 2008

Surfing the Thames… Yes, London.

Published by at 4:31 pm under Surf spots,Travel

Yes, the UK does get surf and actually gets good surf (see link “Pipeland Comes to Scotland“). Now, one entrepreneur’s vision is to have a wave park on the Thames in London. Steve Jones is planning the The Venture Xtreme project at Silvertown Quays. Surfers will be able to ride 3-5 ft waves all year round by the Thames in a wave park. (Youtube video at end)

London Surf Park, Venture Xtreme Project at Silvertown Quays

The wave park is planned for 2011 and offers 100 m long rides that can break either left or right. For $60/hour surfers would get the chance to ride up to 10 waves. [more after the jump]

“Surfers can expect to pay £30 for an hour’s session that will offer at least 10 waves per rider, each rolling more than 100 metres as the swell spreads from the dock to the wide beach. The wave machine can be set to make the surf break left and right from a central peak, allowing surfers to ride comfortably without fear of collision – a hazard which plagues the increasingly crowded breaks in Devon and Cornwall. Floodlit surfing and screens highlighting riders’ best moves aim to attract an estimated 100,000 surfers and body-boarders a year, as well as half a million spectators.

Last year the British Surfing Association estimated that almost half of the country’s 500,000 surfers were based outside the south-west where the most consistent waves are available, and 60,000 live in London.” [Guardian]

Artificial waves and wave parks are nothing new. Japan recently shut down the Ocean Dome, which was arguably the best wave park in the world, much to the dismay of surfers everywhere. This hurt us surfers especially hard because most of us found out after the wave park closed via a Transworld Surf article where they sent some pro’s to surf it and report back (Kalani Robb and Benji Weatherly among others). The report back was good, even epic; but the prognosis bad as the Ocean Dome was closing.

Ocean Dome, Wave Park, Japan

Us avid surf magazine readers have been tempted by building of the Ron Jon Surf Park in Orlando, FL. It seems that it’s always been just a year away from being completed since 2003 (apparently now it really is). This surf park is promised to be the world’s best (in spite of the claim’s of the London surf park).

Oddly enough, the Guardian article on the London wave park quotes a surfer who claims an artificial wave doesn’t replicate the surf experience. As if he’d prefer all those about to line up to pay to surf waves, come down to the beach instead and pack into the already crowded line-ups. While I agree in spirit with him, if I were in London, a surf park would come close enough to replicating the surf experience to make it worth every penny (or pence) I paid. And there would sure as shit be times I would hit the park up instead of making the three hour drive to Cornwall.

I’m completely in favor of these things. I would gladly pay $60 for 10 guaranteed good waves of 100 meters in one hour. There are those who decry the parks suggesting that they’ll just encourage more people to surf and further crowd the line-ups. But I think it’s the opposite, that there will always be traditionalist who treasure the pure experience of the ocean but more and more surfers will want the guarantees of waves and consistency of the surf parks. So bring them on! And as for London, damn you British surfers deserve at least that for what you endure to get decent waves.

Ocean Dome, we hardly knew ya!

[youtube WTC5JTywEvY]

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