For years surfing has just been a holiday pastime for city-dwellers, but now with the growth of the urban surfing movement, the sport can be brought to even the busiest metropolis’s waterways.
Introducing Munich’s Eisbach river. For experienced surfers the name will not be new, as people have been surfing the Bavarian river since the 1970s. But only now, since the legalisation of surfing on the Eisbach in 2010, is the sport gaining popularity and global attention.
The world’s largest urban surfing spot lies past a bridge over the Eisbach in Munich’s Englischer Garten, the largest urban park in the world. The river features a permanent wave of 1 metre high, accidentally created in 1972 after concrete blocks were inserted into the river to break up the current. Measuring 12 metres across, the wave can only host one surfer at a time, making the spot into a great spectator point, with tourists and locals watching as surfers hit the wave all year round. Surfers frequent the wave day and night, with over 100 people making use of the rolling wave every day. Unlike ocean waves, the river wave gives you no time to paddle and stand up; experienced surfers have perfected the technique of leaping right onto the board the moment they hit the water.
The Eisbach river surfing community has its own zine, updated regularly listing events and featuring profiles of local surfers. Whilst being dedicated patrons of the sport, the surfers listed are also industrial designers, advertisers, and film editors by day. The river offers a convenient spot for busy urban surfers to get their daily fix of wave-riding.
City-workers can escape the concrete jungle for as long or as little as they like. Situated only 10 metres away from a major motorway, the river takes you as close to the ocean’s waves as you can be in a large city. Urban river surfing has already spread to Switzerland, Norway and even China, with a petition going to get a surfable wave in Rotterdam. London has even started its own Yoga for City Surfers community, designed to help surfers maintain their surfing fitness even when landlocked in the city.
The growing popularity of city surfing has given rise to the annual Stationary Wave Riding Championships. Munich airport features an artificial standing wave, where the European Championships will take place this year on August 9 and 10. The city’s celebration of surfing also means the airport offers free surfing from 3-8pm. The Surf and Style event will run from July 30 until August 24.