I’m just back from surfing the world’s first real man-made wave at Surf Snowdonia in North Wales.
And here’s the surprise – I was totally stoked by it.
Like many surfers I was cynical about a man-made wave being either big enough or powerful enough to be worth riding. Let me tell you that the ‘advanced’ wave at Surf Snowdonia is a fast, smooth, chest to head high wave that’s easily as much fun as anything I’ve surfed recently in Pembrokeshire.
Sure, being in a freshwater lagoon with all kinds of mechanical jiggery-pokery creating the wave and surrounded by green wooded hills is hardly like being down your local beach when there’s a good swell running, but no one ever said Surf Snowdonia was going to rival the beach – it’s an alternative, the way snow domes are an alternative way of skiing (and unlike a snow dome at least you’re outside in the sunshine – or rain, this is North Wales after all).
And unlike almost any regular wave it’s totally predictable, every wave being the same; I guess that could get boring after a while, but I was in the water for at least 90 minutes and I’d happily have stayed in longer if I could have.
Catching the wave is weird – the ‘wave foil’ that creates it surges up behind, you paddle like a man possessed and assuming you succeed in picking up the now peeling wave you then get a nice drop and put in a hard bottom turn to apparently surf towards the pontoon running down the middle of the lagoon. But you never reach it as the wave pushes you back out and it has more than enough size and power for you to enjoy several really fun turns before the whole thing peters out at the end of the lagoon.
Whitesands regulars should imagine shoulder-high Elevator on a clean swell; it’s as much fun as that and about as long in terms of how long you’re riding for – perhaps even a little bit longer.
The only downside to the whole thing was being constantly dropped in on by former pro-surfer Kalani Robb – what a nob. And he wasn’t even that good either…