by Mark Ross, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Ollie Bacon, Innovation and Computer Science, Third Year and Joe Langstaff, Geology, Third Year
Thanks to its new 20 per cent discount, Bristol’s hi-tech inland surf lake, ‘the Wave’, has slipped into the price range of Bristol students. Epigram sent three writers to test the waters and see if it is worth leaving campus for.
After the ten-minute walk from the car park (during which we realised that skateboards would have been useful, had we been able to use them) we were guided by several smiley staff to pick up our wetsuits.
UoB Surf Society’s very own Tash provided us with the goods - included in the price - and we began our intermediate lesson by the side of the 180 metre, pizza shaped wave pool. On the crust of the right slice, we sat with our boards and, AA style, took turns to open up about our (lack of) surfing history.
The futuristic complex is nestled amongst the West County countryside, which lends it a surreal, Bond-villain-lair feel. Our new matching lycra outfits suited the aesthetic well.
The instructors were affable and reassuring which made us feel better about launching ourselves into the watery maelstrom. Between us, our experience amounted to a handful of surf trips and multiple viewings of ‘Surf’s Up’, so the encouragement was welcomed.
What followed was 60 minutes of freezing, falling and a huge amount of fun. The beauty of the 'Wave' is consistency; where traditionally each ‘wipe out’ is followed by a lung-busting paddle back to sea, here you can hop into the ‘channel’ and catch another wave only a few minutes after your ignominious tumble.
Our instructors bobbed around us offering advice on our technique. This proved extremely useful - apparently the frantic kicking copied from a young Keanu Reeves didn’t actually help me pop-up more easily.
We each caught a few waves, and fell off many more. The ‘intermediate’ wave is one of several that you can choose from. The rest range from ‘beginner’ and ‘waikiki’ (great for a relaxed session) all the way up to high-performance barrelling waves of up to 2m.
The lake is unheated, meaning the beginning of the session was extra-chilly. Although wetsuits are included with the package, we would recommend borrowing one from a friend if you can - there were one or two holes which let the icy water in.
The session flashed by and minutes after drying off we were already discussing our next trip.
The waves were convincing, but we were far from the windy beaches of Devon. The bright, airy café was the perfect post-surf haven and provided a handful of delightful lattes. The ‘Maverick’ veggie burger was excellently meaty, if pricey at £14.
The comforts were undeniably welcomed, however, the whole experience fell short of the real deal. We agreed that the exposure to nature, hint of danger and subsequent feelings of exhaustion and adrenaline were unique to ‘real’ surfing. The ‘Wave’ just couldn't capture the thrill of the real sea.
On top of this, we were beginning to realise that ‘the Wave’ is a bit of a big budget destination. But if you factor in the student discount, bringing your own homemade food, and the price of a trip to the beach in comparison, it is about as affordable as a surf trip can be in today’s post-Trussian climate.
The trek back to the car park flew by as we told wildly exaggerated tales of the huge waves we caught (although Joe actually did do a kickflip). Yes, it’s a wee bit bourgeois, but a trip to the ‘Wave’ is an incredible adventure for students of all surfing abilities.
Head to the Wave's website for more information about their student discount