When we think about surfing, our mind inevitably goes to California or Hawaii and their sun-kissed shores. The last place we would think of is probably Wales. Dolgarrog, however, a 500-people strong hamlet located more than 10 miles from the sea, could soon become the next big thing for surfers: as from this summer, it will be hosting Surf Snowdonia, a one-of-a-kind wavegarden where surf aficionados from all over Europe and the world will be able to refine their skills on artificial waves.
Located on a former industrial area once occupied by a steel factory, Surf Snowdonia could be the trump card that will enable a troubled area in urgent need of development to become a sought-after surfing destination with over 75k paying visitors a year. But what are people in the industry saying about it? International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre is supporting the project and hopes it will help surfing to be recognised as an olympic sport.
Because having state of the art technology capable of delivering consistent and repetitive waves regardless of weather conditions is exactly what could enable surfers to compete on equal terms. Others are less enthusiastic about the project, wondering whether surfing on artificial waves should be considered surfing at all, because this sport is not only about being able to tame waves, it’s also about knowing the ocean. It’s about understanding the sea and its moods, something that machine-generated waves will never be able to teach.