By: Philippe Blondel and Chris Blenkinsopp

The Wave is a recently opened inland surf destination near Bristol, the first of its kind in the northern hemisphere. Water Innovation & Research Centre (WIRC) researchers were part of a delegation from the University of Bath, invited to an exploratory visit, facilitated by the University of Bath’s Public Engagement Unit (Rob Cooper and Helen Featherstone). Although the timing of the visit on 29 January 2020 coincided with the busiest part of the exam-marking period, researchers from the Coastal and Ocean Engineering theme took time off to explore the potential of this exciting destination for research and teaching.

Chris Blenkinsopp and his postgraduate research assistant Paul Bayle (both based in Architecture and Civil Engineering), with Philippe Blondel (Physics), were part of the University’s fact-finding mission. We met Nick Hounsfield (Founder) and Abby Richardson from The Wave, who gave us a tour of the facilities and explained more about their mission, for surfers, for water users and for the local communities.

Using Wavegarden’s patented wave-making system, their very large venue can see up to 1,000 quality waves per hour, ranging from 50 cm to almost 2m in height, with wavelengths of 12-15 seconds. The waves available range from gently sloping beginners waves with a slow peeling speed, to fast-breaking waves with steep barrel sections. The Wave is very open to “giving back to the community” and we are now exploring a range of diverse research and teaching opportunities with them.

The most courageous WIRC researchers also tested in situ the quality of the waves by booking a surfing session later in the afternoon. Whilst blustery winds were raging outside, the waves kept coming and the water remained as clear and blue as ever. An irresistible prospect for adventurous water researchers …