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Alan Stokes, two-time UK champ. Photo courtesy of The Wave UK

Alan Stokes, two-time UK champ. Photo courtesy of The Wave UK


The Inertia

Planning has been submitted for one of the first full-scale Wavegarden installations. Where? The laid back but radically confident region of Bristol, United Kingdom. It’s fitting that this technology would end up inland, but few would have guessed it would be the UK.

Bristol has its surf already, although only in the form of the Severn Tidal Bore, the record for which stands at a quad-burning 9.2 miles (Steve King).

Bristol also has the very active Bristol Surf Club and is the gateway to the coast, being minutes from the motorway. Everyone traveling to the coast goes past Bristol. The nearest well-known surfing beaches are a good two hours away.

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Co-founder, Tobin Coles, and I come from a heritage of explorers, engineers, carpenters and most important Surfers. Tobin’s grandfather shaped his own wooden board after returning from the war in North Africa. He used to strap it to his motorbike to get to the beach. It seems fitting now that us two fanatical surfers can put this genetic passion into a project that could change the face of surfing for many people.

We love the ocean and the natural environment, but we realize there are hundreds of thousands of people that do not get to the beach, see waves and get in the water. It’s a massive opportunity to educate kids about water safety, surfing, the physics of waves and so much more.

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Plans for the installation. Photo courtesy of The Wave UK

Tobin adds that there is huge scope for professional surfers, elderly, kids and people with disabilities to be in the water together; exercising, learning and socializing with each other. This will be the core of the business. However, the ability to hold training camps, competitions and product testing are also unique opportunities. We can guarantee waves at the press of the button, and this makes it so much more accessible.

One quirk of the project is a full-bore ethos around sustainability. We are leading the charge in the surf park industry to make sure that we balance financial profit with social and environmental profit.

This is our DNA. It has to make profit to survive, however, if we can make positive environmental impacts along the way and make a social impact with disabled people, ex-military, disadvantaged kids and the elderly, what an amazing project it would be. This will not be a pastiche facility for the middle class. This will be for everyone and we’ve taken a lot of time to think this through.

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We also have a team of good mentors – Chris Hines, MBE, was one of the founding members of Surfers Against Sewage, hailed as one of the coolest environmental campaigning groups. He will make sure we walk the talk in terms of sustainability and inject a similar passion for using surfing as a tool for positive change.

The waves may be artificial, but you could not get a more genuine project to base a Wavegarden within.

The planning application for The Wave can be viewed, supported and commented on here, and it would be great to support this as a global surf community.

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