It ain't perfect, but it's gonna be, says Jarrad Howse of first commercial Wavegarden. Includes bonus fight!
I’ve ridden a few tanks. One in Malaysia, with a ski, and it was crummy, another in the Canary Islands without the bike and it was fabulous beyond measure. It was so good I could hardly breathe, a real-life three-foot wave with heft. And we surfed it at midnight, under a full moon. And then later we blew our heads off with whatever we could find and wandered the streets of Tenerife, laughing at the terrific numbers of people in wheelchairs (come on, you would too! It’s crazy!) and the very ugly men in soccer uniforms from England.
(Watch below for an interpretation of that event, although I’ve been skilfully edited out.)
Anyway, the former CT surfer Jarrad Howe, 36 years old, and now the part-time coach of Mick Fanning, went to Wavegarden’s first commercial pool in Snowdonia, Wales, to scope it for a Red Bull event there in September. He flew to Machester, grabbed a car, and drove an hour-and-a-half through them rolling green hills and stayed in the wee town of Conwy, home to King Arthur’s fabled castle!
The Wavegarden is at the gateway to the Snowdonia national park and next-door to a hydro-electricity site. Handy!
Although he only rode one wave, and on borrowed equipment cause his own stuff got lost in transito, he spent a day watching Brits Alan Stokes and Jayce Robinson ride it.
I wanted to know, how does Jarrad, who’s been around the block plenty of times, actually rate it? He’s got a small conflict of interest, I suppose, as Sports Director of the Red Bull event, but he does tend to play straight.
BeachGrit: How long ago was this clip slung together?
Howse: I went straight to the pool after J-Bay. I was planning to stay an extra day-and-a -half, but when the G-Dubs started trying to end peoples lives, I got out of there.
BeachGrit: So what was your impression of the tank?
Howse: I thought it was awesome. I surfed the original in the Basque country and you couldn’t help but be completely excited and in awe of a mechanical wave, at least when you first see one. That in mind, the one in the Basque country gets boring. I’m too big for it. If I was a grommet, 14 and under, I’d want to surf that wave all day. It was pretty exciting to go to one that was double size. They were actually reluctant to release the footage because the wave was only at sixty-percent.
BeachGrit: It’s cute as hell, I’m sold etc, but it sure needs an oncoming section or… something… to break up the 10 same turns to the shore.
Howse: They’re doing it, they’re building a closeout air section. They were only running the middle third of the wave. Right now, it’s built for top-to-bottom surfing, hacks, and then the blow-tail air reverse Dane, Jordy and Julian do. The end section will add an extra twist.
BeachGrit: Is it a game changer?
Howse: I think it is. The wave, literally, runs at the same speed from start to finish. There’s a repetitiveness to that, but you could master one certain trick. And it would be awesome for board testing as well. Yeah, I think this is just the beginning.
BeachGrit: Tell me about Filipe Toledo’s cuz showing up…
Howse: There was a guy sleeping in his van who told the people from Snowdonia that he was Filipe Toledo’s cousin. He’d drawn Rip Curl stickers on this board, but got his way in. I saw him catch a couple of waves and it looked like he was surfing switch-stance. One of the instructors questioned whether he was really sponsored, if he was really Filipe’s cousin, and the guy started swinging at the instructor who was only half-way out of his wetty. Localism already!
BeachGrit: Is it going to work?
Howse: It’s funny, when the boys used to go to that Scotland event, you could randomly ask anyone, the Hawaiians, the Americans, the Aussies, what their favourite event was, and even though it wasn’t the best waves, and it was by far the coldest, the historic feel of the area just had an… impact. It’ll attract your travelling surfer in France, Portugal. Snowdonia will become a stopover, to see it, and the novelty of riding it for a couple of days. There’s a lot of ticks for Snowdonia, especially if the wave is 40 per cent better than I saw it.