Surfers are always discovering new waves and finding new locations to surf. Just when we think there is nowhere left to discover, that every square inch of Google Earth has been found, someone goes out and finds yet another wave. Mick Fanning's Snake, the Brand Brother's endless Angolan barrels, a new big wave spot in Indonesia, and Canada's right-hand beachies are all fairly new.
Sometimes, if there is no coastline on which to surf, on which to discover, then waves have to be created.
The new Alaïa Bay wave pool in Switzerland is such a place. It is a Wavegarden Cove wave pool, the most popular, 1000-waves-an-hour type of wave pool at the moment. It follows on from The Wave in Bristol, England, and Urbnsurf in Melbourne, Australia, but with some marked improvements from both. It also has a ‘Beast Mode.’
It’s somewhat of an anomaly that, for a country with no coastline, Switzerland has some good surfers in their mix. Their 23rd placing in the team event at the 2019 ISA World Games might not seem like much at first glance, but the result is quite extraordinary when you unpack it.
There were 54 countries represented, so a 23rd finish is in the middle. Britain finished 20th. Switzerland beat Ecuador, Barbados, and Ireland in 24th, 25th and 26th places, and beat countries like Morocco, El Salvador, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. In essence, Switzerland has fantastic surfers. Some of them make the trek to go and surf the French beach breaks whenever they can.
Some of them travel to warmer and cheaper climes like Indonesia through the winter months (when travel is allowed). The board sports culture of snowboard and skiing also helps surfers with balance, flow and harnessing energy. It seems though, that their surfers are also naturally gifted.
Now with the soon to be open Alaïa Bay facility, the Swiss surfing team has a home and regular access. We can expect the team to just start climbing up the ranks until they become possibly as famous as the Jamaican bobsled team.
Apart from the Swiss National team having a new home, Alaïa Bay will provide a top-end experience for everyone, and surfers will come back to the surf. When Alaïa Bay opened up the Pre-Opening ticket sales, they were all snapped up almost immediately, and were completely sold out. Hence, the surfers know what they have coming, and they are amped and ready. The wave will be opened up at the start of Spring, and then Alaïa Bay will be pumping for the summer. Alaïa Bay’s founder, Adam Bonvin, is excited about the opening.
“Snowboarding is great, and one of my passions, but there is nothing quite like surfing,” said the perennially-stoked 25-year-old. “You can bring your personal coach, you can try your airs over and over again, and you can get totally barreled. If there is something that you want to work on, like your backhand take-off for example, then you can work on it, knowing that the waves are going to be the same.”
The Wavegarden Cove model does one thing different to many other wave pool models in that it pumps out waves continuously. There is no waiting around for anything to reload or to settle or to fill up. Up to 1,000 waves per hour. On the upper levels of surfing – Advanced and Expert – you can expect around 10 surfers on each side, riding lefts and rights, and each surfer getting 12 waves or more. Sessions are 55 minutes long. That equates to a lot of waves. A wave count of 10 in under an hour is decent. At some of the more crowded waves around the world, that would be an excellent count.
Growing up in Switzerland obviously means that you have a different approach to the cold. It is normal and part of life in this part of the world and does not seem to worry anyone. A good wetsuit, a warm shower, and a dry hoodie will be enough, remembering that a session is only 55 minutes long, and there are no duck-dives unless you wipe out. That's a lot of kinetic energy and adrenalin and endorphins and all the other good liqueurs that the body produces to get you through any kind of physical discomfort. The cold is not going to be a problem. If you surf during Beast Mode, you'll be so adrenalized and so pumped on getting barreled that you won't even register the water temperature.
The retail experience, all 200m2 of it, is a Boardriders shop with Quiksilver and Roxy products and many other brands that fall under the Boardriders stable. There are a surfboard factory and a shaping bay and an in-house shaper and surfboard designer in Carlos Lopes.
There is also a restaurant, the Twin Fin Bistro, a Surf School, a hotel and hostel for accommodation, and a skate park. During the colder months, the slopes are twenty minutes away.
Most important, however, are the waves. There will be non-stop waves pouring through, various levels from Beginner to Beast Mode, and all the necessary equipment available to make every session a lot of fun. All you have to do is get there.