The Wave, Bristol

A landmark destination

A visionary inland surfing destination using cutting-edge Wavegarden ‘Cove’ technology to provide up to 1,000 waves per hour, with our full range of multi-disciplinary engineering services instrumental from concept stage through to detailed design.

The Wave is the brainchild of founder Nick Hounsfield. Working with CEO, Craig Stoddart, they want to provide naturally healthy spaces, where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, can surf all year round on consistent waves. The Wave is about improving health and wellbeing through surfing and having a shed load of fun in the process.

Nine years in the making, the £25m surfing lagoon project is powered by 100% renewable electricity and delivers the opportunity to surf all year round, independent of weather conditions and tides.

The facility includes six different surfing zones offering waves of different size and power for up to 80 users at one time. Encouraging people of all abilities to experience the joy of surfing, it is designed to be accessible to those with even the most severe disabilities.

The group of 20 deserving First Riders, were selected from over 350 nominations to ride the very first public waves. There were people from all walks of life in the line-up, including environmental campaigners, ordinary people who have overcome adversity, charity founders, a brilliant school teacher and her pupils, equality champions and British surfing legends. They included a group of schoolchildren from central Bristol, some of whom had never seen the sea; Marshall Janson, a youngster from Cornwall who lost his hands and legs to meningitis, and Claire Moodie, who set up the campaign group Plastic Free North Devon.

We’ve got a real opportunity of getting people, particularly kids, off computers, getting them outdoors, get them interacting with nature, and improving people’s health and wellbeing on a physical and a mental basis,” Nick Hounsfield said. “That’s the bit that really makes me tick… Particularly because this is inland, there is a real disconnect between people who are living in cities, and maybe don’t understand the impact of what they are doing day-to-day and the choices that they are making are having on the coastal environment – from what we flush down the toilet to our choices in single-use plastics.”

Surfing is great exercise. The physical and mental health benefits are well known within the surf community and evidence is growing about just how good surfing is for you. It combines aerobic exercise and strength training with a stress-relieving mental health workout as you progress and develop new skills.

Surfing is one of the top ‘blue health’ activities which draw on the known therapeutic effects of being active in or near water such as lakes, rivers or the sea. This is currently the subject of a Europe-wide study into the links between environment, climate and health.

The Wave also houses a surfing lake, clubhouse, and restaurant, and from spring 2020 will feature family-friendly camping grounds, woodland walks, and food and sensory gardens.

Key achievements

  • The Wave offers the closest approximation to proper open-ocean swells and storm-generated surf
  • Powered by 100% renewable electricity made from the wind and the sun
  • Providing an active, educational experience for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities