The Wave, Bristol.
Who doesn't love a surf trip. When Nick said he wanted to do a trip to The Wave in his recently finished Bedford Bus Camper I couldn't refuse.
There would be four of us on this little trip. Three had surfed The Wave before and me, my first time.
Nick pulled up and the theme tune to Summer Holiday instantly started played through my head. A converted Bedford prototype Bus that Nick has painstakingly turned into a beautiful family camper was to be our transport and lodgings for the trip.
Not the fastest journey I've ever had, but probably the most fun. Every car that past us, literally every car on the road, smiled and waved. From the outside the Bus looks amazing but inside is the real beauty. You can check it out fully HERE:
We pulled into The Wave carpark the night before, set up camp for the night. Cracking open a bottle of wine, we discussed the boys previous trips to The Wave and what to expect.
The morning came and with fuzzy heads we started the walk. Now if you haven't been before it is quite a trek. Take everything you need as you don't want to be walking back.
The set up is great, lots of board storage, change areas and open space, all with a good view of the action. After stashing our gear we grabbed a much needed coffee and took in the sight of the pool. Our session was the first of the day, on the Expert setting. It's a weird feeling looking at a flat pool, trying to envisage pumping waves.
We suited up, grabbed a rash vest and had the briefing, during which there was some interesting warm up techniques going down.
The pool is made of concrete, and if you hit it, it will hurt. Helmets are available and compulsory for under 18's and I'm surprised they haven't set up a ding repair shop in house yet.
We paddled out feeling nervous and excited. You can feel everyone's eyes on you from the shore and viewing platform. We waited in line and then the machine kicked in. The pool had come alive and it felt angry. The amount of movement in the lineup was an experience in itself as you start banging into each other trying to figure out what you're supposed to do. The surf guide who stands on the side wall gives you advice on where to take off from, using different markers along the concrete wall for the different settings.
The first round of waves was a real mixed bag for everyone. Lots of falls, people getting washed down the wall, boards and ego's getting a good bashing and just generally figuring it out. It took a few goes to start getting the hang of it. The settings changed throughout the session so unlike Snowdonia where the wave is the same every time, the waves were all slightly different.
The Expert Wave setting has a steep take off. The closer you are to the wall the steeper it is. Top tip, the further away from the wall you are, the easier the drop is to make. If you miss your take off, that's it, back of the line please. The first section allows for a turn, which instinctly you nurse as you do not want to fall, then fattens up a bit and then walls up again for a racey end section that barrels. Being the expert setting, this made everything that bit more critical. I was on my back hand and found it quite tricky to judge, and it was my first session. Nick and the boys on their forehand faired much better, but this was their third session. Previous experience definitely helps.
The experience was great. The expert session is definitely geared towards better surfers as the name suggests. It will take time to dial in but if you want proper waves in a pool this is as good as it gets in this country at the moment.
We stayed in the water again for the following session, taking advantage of the discount if you book another session while there!!
This was the Advanced setting and was almost a calming experience after the Expert sesh. Easy and forgiving, you get two or three goes at catching the wave now if you miss an attempt. The wave itself has less punch that the Expert setting which is to be expected, however you can still do turns and is as much fun as a normal waist to chest Witts session. There seemed to be more opportunity to catch a second wave this time around too.
One thing I noticed towards the end of the second session on the advanced setting, people seemed to be getting tired quicker and taking their time paddling back out. This lead to the ultimate Britishness of not wanting to overtake someone who is in a queue. Because of this a number of waves went unridden which when your wave count can be measured in £££'s can be frustrating. I'm not sure how to get around this without having a fastest first policy. It's a complete role reversal to normal surfing where in general it is every person for themselves and best tend to get the most waves.
In conclusion The Wave is great fun. The waves were the closest I've experienced to real waves in a pool. If you're comfortable with late drops and don't mind fairly chunky surf then give the Expert sesh a go. The Advanced setting would be the equivalent of a good sesh at the Witterings so pretty much suited to most levels. The set up is spot on, with great coffee and food and the whole place has a real buzz about it. We've booked our next trip already.