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Can Wavepools Help Improve Your Surfing?

I must admit I wasn’t convinced by wavepools at first. It took me a few visits to get used to it all: the queuing, the pressure when it comes to your go, and what to do on each section. But once I got out of my head and just started surfing naturally I found myself enjoying my session a lot more.

Wavepools clogging up our feeds

We can’t get past the photos littering up our feeds these days of wavepools around the world, from tropical ones in Brazil to Swiss alp backdrops more wavepools are popping up and it’s hard not to get swept up in all the hype. I guess for landlocked surfers the excitement is more palpable and I can see why many surfers in Switzerland thought all their Christmas’ had come at once, when Alaia Bay opened its pool to the public.

As for me, I’m lucky to have the ‘Bristol’ wavepool just on my doorstep and have recently been making use of flat spells to get more familiar with the left hander on Advanced (yet to try Advanced Plus or Expert on left). Because of the high cost, I can’t do this too often, so I have to choose when I go wisely and not so often otherwise I’ll go broke pretty fast! When I first went just a few months after The Wave had opened, I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed with the size and power of the wave. Whilst, perfectly formed I was just expecting a tad more size, but now I realise they need to appeal to a range of ages and abilities, and still people are booking themselves on the Advanced settings and perhaps are not being so honest with themselves about their ability. I would advise you book the right setting for your level as you’ll have a lot more fun, which is the whole point of it right?

Wavepools go against everything you’re used to in the ocean. In the ocean you can take your time, wait for your set and go when you choose. At wavepools it’s all queuing up (perfect for us Brits who love a good queue!), if you mess up your chance, unlucky pal back to the queue. This means the pressure is on, with all eyes on you when it’s go - some people can thrive on this, others like me I’m not super stoked on it. Then, when you do make the drop, it’s a case of not getting too carried away racing down the line but keeping pace and back to the power source so you can get a turn in or two before a potential head dip on the inside.

So here are the things I’ve learnt after 4 trips to the Wave to try out both the left and right on different Advanced settings.

Bring a board that you’re super comfortable with, I don’t recommend using theirs - I did this on a couple of times and never really got used to the Slater Designs boards which weren’t the same dims as I usually ride (unless you’re the sort of surfer who can ride anything). Foam is your friend here, first few go’s it can be tough to get into them especially if you’re not lined up with the markings on the wall, and too deep.

It helps to be surf fit before going, I made this mistake after lockdown 3.0 ended, it’s certainly a leg burner and gets the heart going. Fitting in a few surfs in the days before, if possible, before your session will certainly help you go the full distance on your session maximising your wave count in the 45 minutes, or so.

If you’re bringing your own wetsuit and accessories, make sure you’ve got the right gear for the weather for the 45 minutes, or so, you’ll be surfing for. Winter is freezing so you’ll need the whole kit and kaboodle: 6/5 or 5/4, gloves, boots and some Summer days can be warm enough for boardies and a rashie.

Get there in plenty of time about an hour before your session, and take into account it takes about 10 minutes to walk to the inland surfing lake from the car park (this caught me out on my first and second visits cutting it very fine before my session started).

Remember to take some time stretching, before you hit the pool, this is super important for me now I’m getting older and no longer loose and limber like I used to be.

Don’t worry if you mess up your go or what others are doing, you’ll quickly be back at the front and have another chance to nail it.

Wavepools can definitely be a nice supplement to ocean surfing, for those times when the ocean doesn’t cooperate and there’s little to no swell on the horizon. Because each wave is the same, it allows you to practice certain manoeuvres over and over again. I’d say wavepools can definitely accelerate your improvement especially when combined with photographic and video analysis. The most important thing to remember is that most of us using wavepools aren’t pros so therefore we don’t need to boost those airs or try and impress the insta crowd. It’s just about getting back to basics and having fun!

Hold on. Getting your basket...