Surf park rides £200m expansion wave

·2 min read
Lukas Skinner surfs at The Wave’s Bristol site - Dan Mullins /Image Cabin
Lukas Skinner surfs at The Wave’s Bristol site - Dan Mullins /Image Cabin

A British surf park operator is preparing to open at least six new sites as part of a £200m expansion.

The Wave, which opened its first facility in Bristol in late 2019, expects to build the new developments in Enfield, north London, a site near the Peak District and another in Ireland over the next five to seven years.

More could follow in other parts of the UK and even on the continent if they prove successful.

Craig Stoddart, the Wave’s chief executive, said the move was in response to growing demand from surfers for inland facilities.

Using machinery and computer software, the Wave’s parks can generate artificial waves in 650ft-wide lakes that can be tailored by frequency or size.

A drone shot of The Wave’s site in Bristol - The Wave
A drone shot of The Wave’s site in Bristol - The Wave

The diamond-shaped lakes are divided by a pier containing paddles that rhythmically push out the water.

Up to 1,000 waves can be generated an hour and they can reach a heigh of more than 7ft.

The consistency of the waves makes the facilities popular for teaching and means surfers can practice without having to wait on the beach for the perfect breaker, Mr Stoddart added.

“What you do not get often on British beaches is world-class waves, but our park can literally serve them up every day,” he said.

“So you are getting something that is equivalent to what you would otherwise have to fly to Hawaii or Indonesia to get.”

The Wave was hit by disaster soon after opening when Britain was forced into the first coronavirus lockdown.

It reopened in summer 2020, but was then forced to close again when restrictions were reimposed just before Christmas that year.

The park got going again at the end of March and managed to attract about 200,000 visitors in 2021, with more than 300,000 customers to date.

Beginner lessons lasting 90 minutes start at £50 at the Bristol park.

Mr Stoddard said the pandemic had been “incredibly difficult” for the company, which had to furlough almost all its staff to survive, but he was now optimistic about the future.

He believes more than 100 surf parks will open around the world in the coming years as their popularity takes off.

The Wave’s technology is licensed from Wavegarden, a company based in Spain, and the firm recently signed a £2m deal that gives it exclusivity in most of southern England, the Peak District and both Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland.

Construction of the Enfield site is expected to start in the second quarter of next year.

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