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I had decided to take 2015 off from the competition scene. Although, I continued to be in the water and on the trails. No time for rest ... time to get going again and start planning out Fiji/Australia. Although I'll be going for the yearly photo/video shoot, I cant help but think of how El Nino is going to effect things. Im actually pretty stoked.
New Year, New Adventures...New Sponsors. Stay tuned for the companies/people who are going to be part of the adventure.
Thank you to everyone who continues to show support.
See you out there!!
The Austin wave pool idea all started when my
original travel plans went sideways. I had won a few contests this season and
was able to save all of my winnings. The plan was to put it towards going to
Nicaragua at the end of the year. Some obstacles beyond my control made my trip
impossible. Later that week a press release came out that Nland surf park was
opening the next weekend. I had a surf contest so I couldn't go on the opening
weekend. I went online and booked several sessions for the next
weekend. Once the reservations were confirmed, my wife and I bought our
flights...and just like that we were headed to Austin!
We entered the gates at NLand. signed in, got
our wrist bands and headed to orientation. We sat in a small room and watched a
quick ‘how to’ video on what to expect. The orientation video briefly goes over
safety, etiquette in the wave pool, and the main points of the wave. For
instance, where you paddle out and paddle in from depends on which side of the
pier you are on. The wave is broken into three distinct waves. First, the
"Reef" which is the closest to the pier, this would be the area for
experts. Second, the “Inside” which is just off the main peak, this would be
for the intermediate surfers. Lastly, the “Bay” which is for the beginners
and is located at either end of the pool.
The pool has two sides that are exactly the same when it's
glassy. However, when it's windy there is a good side and a windy side. The
best side is opposite of the wind. When you look at the pool the wind decides
which side you want to be on. Just like how any pier or jetty structure blocks
the wind in the ocean. That natural element is what I saw immediately. One side
was clearly glassier then the other.
The water is actually an emerald green, however
the grass area and dirt road that goes around the pool creates dust. When
the dust is blown into the pool it creates silt. Then when the plow
starts it stirs up the water and turns it brown. The staff checks the ph. every
two sessions or so, it seemed clean enough. The water and air temperature was
nearly 80 degrees.
The wave itself is fast and difficult to catch. I found myself hitting
my hand against the fence when I paddled. If I didn’t get that close, the
wave would pull me to the center of the pool and I would almost miss the wave
altogether. I found myself scratching, kicking and fighting just to get in. I
saw multiple waves go by un ridden by the other surfers. Even the best surfers
had a learning curve. Once you figured out the best method for catching the
wave the fun really begins. I can't express how fast the wave is.
The fresh water made me feel at least 15 lbs.
heavier. I bumped up my volume 4 liters on my shortboard and it still felt
sluggish. I used my 7'0 winter egg which felt better, it gave me more float and
drive with the bigger fin set up.
When riding a longboard the wave can be caught almost 20
yards further out then on a shortboard. I still had to paddle hard but the
bigger board allowed an easier entry. My noserides had to be done well out in
front of the curl. On a normal Ocean wave the goal would be to get in the
pocket. At Nland it's necessary to be out in front or it will bowl up and
pitch you with the lip or blow you over the top.
The inside is a reform wave, it refracts and
bends to allow an easy take off with a broken swell, that reforms to a smaller
face. It's a party wave atmosphere so hoots and high fives happens a lot. It's
pretty strange to watch, it's a kind of like a controlled chaos situation. The
lifeguards catch the already broken wave keeping the reef surfers from getting
to close to the insiders wave and to keep the insider surfers from the bay wave
The bay wave is a soft finish to the wave, this
is why leashes are needed. When the reef wave ends the remaining wave is
what the beginners surf, so If you lost your board it could definitely take
someone out on the inside. The bay wave is short and perfect for learning to
The ideal amount of surfers in the water at the
same time would be three people per side, for the reef. A wave comes approx.
every 2 1/2 minutes to allow the pool to settle, which averages 22 waves per
hour. They don't use the full hour, so it ends up being close to 50 minutes.
All that ends up averaging 4.4 waves per person per hour when 5 people are on
the reef wave, so if you have a full pool be ready to wait around.
All in all, it was a fun place to go. If you are
in to new techy stuff, then this is for you. Something one of the workers told
me kind of gave me an insight to the business plan. He said the high cost helps
offset the overhead but also allows Nland to take buses of inner city kids
surfing for the first time. Their goal is to have camps for children with
disabilities and less fortunate kids that would never see a beach let alone
surf, have the opportunity to catch a wave. Doug Coors loves surfing and wants
to bring it to the less fortunate.
I'd like to give a huge thanks to my wife Erin
Wood (you can follow all her adventures @erin_cupcake_wood on Instagram), Birds Surf Shed and
Gordon and Smith Surfboards for the opportunity.