The announcement that work is underway at inland surfing destination The Wave in Bristol has been hailed as a critical next step for the sport and leisure business by a destination consulting expert.
Matt Hyslop, of leading real estate services company Colliers International, advised on the visionary project to build the inland surfing destination, which will be the first full-size Wavegarden Cove facility to open in Europe, the second in the world.
“It is, quite literally, a wave of change,” said Mr Hyslop, Bristol-based associate director in the Destination Consulting team, and a keen surfer himself.
“One of the great challenges for surfers is access to waves, both geographically and in terms of wave size, quality and consistency with favourable surf conditions only occurring 30% of the year.
“The cutting-edge wave-making technology from Spanish company Wavegarden that will be used at The Wave overcomes this problem, by generating up to 1,000 quality waves per hour, with heights starting at 50cm and peaking at almost 2m.
“This will accelerate a major change in UK surfing, consolidating the pioneering start made by Surf Snowdonia, the first major surf park in the UK. By bringing ocean loads of consistent, high quality waves, the market opportunity is considerable. It will make it possible for people to enjoy the sport without having to travel to a beach, and without being dependent upon weather and tides.”
Mr Hyslop explained that technology can now offer a longer and higher quality wave riding experience than typically found in the sea.
“This compares quite differently to the snow dome experience where it will never truly rival the sensation of skiing down a long mountain piste,” he said.
“However, like snow domes, surf parks will not replace the real thing. They are a means of offering an introductory experience to new and frustrated markets. The fact that consistent waves can be created means they have particular value in teaching new participants, training and refining skills and providing a venue for competition.
“Surf parks should strengthen the sport and those coastal visitor economies with new and invigorated participants.”
“The location of The Wave and surrounding large, affluent population suggests consumer demand is unlikely to be an issue. The challenge will lie in having enough capacity to meet demand, especially at peak times, and to counter the seasonality imposed by British weather.”
The Wave, on the northern outskirts of Bristol near Easter Compton, is scheduled to open to the public in autumn of 2019.
It will be the first full-size Wavegarden Cove facility open to the public in Europe and the second in the world after Melbourne, Australia.
Colliers has been well placed in this sector, having advised on all three projects that have been delivered or gained planning approval in the UK.
The UK presently has one artificial surfing lake, Surf Snowdonia, in north Wales, for which Mr Hyslop also acted as a feasibility adviser. Aside from Bristol, Scotland is also set to have an artificial surf centre near Edinburgh, after approval was granted last month, where Colliers advised on the market and financial feasibility, and the successful planning application.