While wave pool designs continue to be mostly a pricey, futuristic daydream for the landlocked public, this weekend in Bend, Oregon, a community of surfers will meet to discuss man-made waves that are a reality right now and being utilized across the globe.
According to organizers, the first ever “River Surf Summit” will host a large contingent of river surfers expected to discuss surfable, in-stream river features in communities–and how to create more like them. “We realized nothing had happened like this in North America and knew it was time,” says Canadian surfer, Jacob Kelly, who was instrumental in getting the Kananaskis Wave built in Calgary, Alberta. “We’ll have river wave engineers, surfers and fundraisers there to discuss river wave building. From the technical side, what goes into a project, to other community highlights like raising money for projects, getting started and safety.”
Kelly, a dedicated river surfer who also put together the Slam Festival this spring, is bringing together an eclectic group of speakers and the Summit is happening in an epicenter of river surfing. Bend’s wave is just coming into its own after construction and subsequent tweaks to the design since its 2015 opening. The feature in Bend, just as in Boise, six hours east, is adjustable and requires a full-time employee to run the park. Ironically, or not, the city of Bend hired its “wave technician,” Ryan Richard, from Boise. He’ll be speaking as well.
Friday night is a meet and greet at the Bend Park, followed by a conference all day Saturday hosted by Bend Parks and Recreation, featuring a multitude of experts. “It’s by no means an exclusive event,” says Kelly. “But this isn’t a whitewater park summit. A lot of places, like Boise, were initially built for kayaking and went in the surfing direction as things evolved. This is to get together communities interested in building river surf waves specific to surfing.”
Here’s the schedule for the weekend’s festivities.