surftraining on standing waves

Surfing in the middle of Europe – without access to the sea? You want to work regularly on your surfing skills but can’t travel “just like that” to the coast for a quick surf trip? It is precisely because of the great longing for waves that more and more standing waves are being installed in Europe. And they aim to provide relief from great surfing soreness.

Only a few landlocked surfers have the possibility to live and work for a longer timeframe close to a surfspot. Maybe surfing on a standing wave is the solution?

Table of contents

What is a standing wave?

A standing wave is a wave that doesn’t move away from its spot. The current of the water creates a face of a wave. The water is moving on the same spot with mostly the same power in the same direction. Like that, the face of the wave stays the same and the waves runs on the spot without moving away from it.

To create a wave the water is accelerated first. If the water flow then meets standing or slow-flowing water, the so-called hydraulic height jump occurs and the standing wave forms.

Eisbachwelle in Germany

You can find natural standing waves for example at river rapids. Most of the times it is not possible to surf them. They depend very much from the water level and the velocity of the flowing water.

The most famous standing wave in Germany – if not the world – is the Eisbach wave in Munich. While surfing on this wave was prohibited until a few years ago, it is now officialy permitted. Under the condition that only experienced and skilled river surfers surf the wave.

Since the Eisbach wave developed naturally and was very dependent on the water level of the river the river wave was artificially altered many years ago. Since then the waves “runs” almost all year around.

stehende Welle am Eisbach in München

How a standing wave works

The river wave of Eisbach is now considered a model for many other artificially created (river) waves. The munich based firm citywave builds standing waves all around the world inspired by the Eisbachwelle.

The power of the water current creates these waves. The water runs over a ramp into a pool and forms a wave. To create the wave it need the hydraulic jump and other obstacles in the pools which influence the water flow. In most cases it is possible to vary the height of the ramp which makes it possible to influence the power and the height of the wave. Like this everyone, from beginner to pro surfer, can try surfing on a standing wave.

surfen auf stehender welle - münchen

Differences in standing waves

River waves

Nowadays there are many standing waves which you can surf. But not all of them are exactly the same – there are some difference between these waves.

First, there are standing river ways that develop naturally. These waves are (just like the waves in the ocean) very dependable on many factors. That’s why it’s often not possible to surf them all year round.

Then there are artifical river waves. These waves are standing waves in a river that are either artificially altered (Eisbach, Munich) or artificial waves that were installed in a river to create a surfable wave (Leine wave, Hanover or Fuchsloch wave, Nürnberg). To create such a wave most times organisations use or example technology from the Dreamwave company. They developed a system in collaboration with the University of Innsbruck to create artificial waves in a natural environment.

Surfing on a lake

In Langenfeld, close to Cologne, an artificial wave was installed in a lake. The wave pool floats on the lake, pumps the water up, accelerates it and thus creates a surfable artificial wave.

All the above-mentioned waves use already existing water bodies. They redirect the water (in parts) to use for the wave and then return the water to the river or lake.

künstliche wellen - surftricks

Artificial indoor waves

These locations usually use the citywave-technology to create the wave. Water is accelerated using a ramp and then builds up to a surfable wave in the wave pool.

By now there are quite a few of these waves in Europe. These make it possible (some just temporarily) to surf in the middle of Europe, far away from the ocean.

In Lucerne and Osnabrück, the waves are installed in shopping malls, in Zurich and Regensburg the wave was installed temporarily for the summer season. In many other cities a bigger infrastructure with bars, restaurants, skate bowls, beach volleyball etc. was added around the standing wave to enjoy and live the surfer culture.

eisbach surfer - stehende welle

Surfing on a standing wave

How to surf a standing wave

Surfing on a standing wave doesn’t work exactly like surfing in the ocean. This is because the water for standing wave comes from the front, whereas the wave in the ocean is known to rush in from behind. This change in direction means that you have to shift your weight on the surfboard differently. When surfing in the ocean, you put weight on your front foot to build up speed. When surfing a standing wave, you have to put weight on the back foot to avoid being swept right out of the wave with the current.

And while the surfboard stabilizes itself through the speed of the wave when surfing in the ocean, when surfing in a standing wave you have to build up speed through turns to stabilize your surfboard. Therefore, even for good surfers with a lot of ocean experience, it’s not wrong to take an instruction course when starting to surfing a standing wave.

stehende wellen - surfen auf künstlichen wellen

Surfboards used on standing waves

The surf boards that are used to surf on a standing wave are most probably shorter that the boards you are used to from your last trip to the ocean. That is because you have to turn much more to gain speed and since the wave pool only offers certain space. Also, you step on the board directly from the edge of the pool. You don’t have to paddle and therefore need less volume than when surfing and paddling in the ocean.

There are some companies that produce specific river surf boards and work with reinforced rails and fin boxes, as these are badly affected by standing waves when surfing.

But once you get the hang of it, you can do the same tricks and turns on a standing wave as you can on an ocean wave.

Advantages & disadvantages of surfing on standing waves

Surfing artificial standing waves causes many discussions amongst the surfer community. While some surfers are happy to be able to pursue their hobby every now and then without having to travel long distances, others find that surfing in the ocean is the only thing to do and don’t want to set foot on an artificially generated standing wave.

Advantages of standing waves

  • Surfing far away from the ocean without traveling long distances
  • More time (and power) to surf, since you don’t have to paddle; you are directly on the wave
  • The wave always stays the same, offering brilliant training possibilities because you can practice again and again with the same conditions
  • Extremly fast progress in surfing
  • Connecting to the surfer community at home
  • Size of the wave can be suited for every surf level

Disadvantages of standing waves

  • High water and energy consumption
  • The waves always breaks the same; you can’t compare it to the waves in the ocean
  • In most cases surfing artificial standing waves is quite expensive
  • It takes some time to get used to the change from the sea to the pool and vice versa
  • Concern: many can surf manoeuvres well thanks to the artificial wave, but do not have the appropriate skills to properly assess and manage the dangers in the sea

    Surfing on standing wave is definitely a good possibility to keep working on your surf skills if the ocean is far away. They also offer the possibility to get in touch with like-minded people in your city and dream together of the next big surf trip. The costs for one session where you share the wave with up to 12 people can be quite high though. But it does help against acute sea soreness, at least in the short term.

    Life is better at the beach