The Wave: Bristol won planning permission yesterday, as councillors voted by 9 to 11 to back the plan for the development of an artificial wave in South Gloucestershire.
“We are aiming to break ground in 6 to 8 weeks” said stoked project director Nick Hounsfield. “And will hopefully be open for business in summer 2015. Give or take a month or two.”
We are aiming to break ground in 6 to 8 weeks. And will hopefully be open for business in summer 2015.Nick Hounsfield
The wave is the second UK project to be given the green light after Snowdonia achieved the same outcome in April. Both ventures are aiming for a similar opening date.
“Three years ago we sat down and said ‘we just want to do something nuts’." Nick continued. "It was a time of change, my dad had recently passed away, and we wanted to create something worthwhile. And we want to do it right.
“Ultimately we want to bring people together. Get the kids away from the TV and bring them to a healthy outside experience they wouldn’t otherwise be enjoying. Likewise, we want adults to see that all kids aren’t all hoody ASBOs. This will be a place for people to meet and get inspired by nature and surfing.”
The £6.5 million surfing lake will produce 60 ‘pushes’ an hour via the central generating platform. The wave then breaks right and left meaning there will be 120 set waves an hour at a max height of 1.9 metres.
As the wave propagates through the pool it will hit a second parallel reef which will produce an additional intermediate wave at half the size. Effectively these 60 ‘pushes’ or what is effectively a line of swell, will be surfed up to 4 times, meaning 240 ridable waves an hour. This is in addition to the learning basins at either end.
“This second reef is a brilliant addition to the project.” Confirms Nick “It really lifts the whole programme having this intermediate wave."
The benefits are two fold. Firstly: the step-up between the learning section and the main wave is quite large, a transition this intermediate wave bridges.
Secondly: turbulence is a big constraint within all wave pools and this extra wave will help dissipate the wash. “Ultimately it is all about how quickly you can push the button again.” Says Nick.
Ultimately it is all about how quickly you can push the button again.Nick Hounsfield
As far as the wave is concerned, it will be a 1.9m wave at its peak, which can either be tuned as a mushy long boarding wave, or a sucky reef wave. And interestingly there is even talk of creating sections.
“I know the Wavegarden guys have been experimenting on their smaller prototype with various ideas.” Says Nick “But it will be impossible to test properly until we have a full size pool operational.
“My gut feeling is that it will be some sort of rubber boulder you clip in like Lego to create ramp sections suitable for progressive surfing.”
Temperature wise this wave will be cold in winter. There’s no doubt about that. For now the solution will be to keep active and there will be mobile surf saunas on site to reheat those hyperthermic limbs.
In the future there are plans involving a handily located local firm which discharges large amounts of steam and heat.
The final factor everyone talks about is the wind. Nick robustly defends the wave’s ability to operate in adverse conditions. “We surfed the Basque Country wave in 40mph winds. One side was offshore, and that was tough to drop in as it was trying to push you up the face. On the onshore side it was fine, holding its form as a good reef would.”
Ultimately the fetch of the pool is so limited and the wave action so frequent, there will not be an opportunity for the large lumps of wind driven swell we are used to seeing in the ocean to generate in the same fun-obstructing manner.
If all goes to plan mechanical waves will be breaking in Gloucestershire in 2015, turning Bristol into an unlikely surf destination.
“It is vitally important to get it open.” Said Nick, keen to get on with the main event. “There are only so many Vimeo videos you can watch. Ultimately we just want people to start using it and see how horribly addictive it is.”