Everybody loves a novelty wave.
From that harbour wall near your house where confused onlookers gawp from above and your shoulder grazes the concrete on take off, to that standing rapid, usually populated by kayakers doing flips (where the difference between a make and a bail seems slim at best), that you trekked through the wilderness to find.
While ocean novelty waves certainly deserve their due, it’s this latter kind- which encourages surfers to stray from the ocean- that we’ll be focussing on here. Generated by all sorts of phenomena, both natural and very unnatural, here are some of our favourite clips of surfer’s who’ve opted to shun the brine in search of a perfect ride.
1. Flood surfing in Switzerland
This clip, which is incidentally is one of the most-watched on our site ever, features some pretty intense standing-wave river surfing in landlocked Switzerland. The wave popped up on the Thur River after some fairly severe flooding and Cyril Inauen and Roland Hauser wasted no time in scoping out its surfing potential. We reckon what sets this apart from other standing wave clips is both the waves size and the rivers ferocity, not to mention the constant stream of debris which comes flying up the face. These factors, combined with the fact standing river waves are notoriously hard to surf at the best times (as demonstrated here) we reckon the boys from Switzerland put on a pretty impressive show on this one.
2. Kepa Acero and the Alaskan Tidal Bore
The world is full of amazing tidal bores and there have been loads of excellent videos documenting them flooding the internet for years now (like this on in China, this one from Indo and this one from the UK) however there’s something about this clip from 2011 that will stick with you. The scenery is incredible, the wave looks super fun, the surfing is stylish and understated and of course, like every other clip made by Kepa Acero, the whole thing emanates a sense of boundless positivity.
3. JOB and friends on the Waimea River Wave
When there’s heavy rainfall on Hawaii’s main island, the rivers flow faster down the mountains towards the sea. Sometimes, the locals decided to help one particular river on its journey by digging out a deep channel in the sand, creating numerous standing waves. Because of its proximity to proper surf spots, Waimea is probably the best place to see top ocean surfers trying their hand at novelty non-ocean waves.
4. Japanese Wave Pool
You’d be forgiven for thinking wave pools were a relatively new phenomena because of the hype new plans to build them still generates. However in reality wave pools have been around since the early 90’s and not only that, but many still thought that before Kelly’s came out, this one, built in Japan in 93, is still the best quality man-made wave ever to be constructed. With proper barrels and a bowly end section which offered potential for any aerial manoeuvre the mind could imagine, you’d think this would have been the be all and end all- the wave pool everyone had been waiting for and would enjoy booming business and expansion. However you’d be quite wrong. After the facility suffered a severe lack of custom, it was forced to close in 2007, bringing to an end the possibility of getting pitted on a man-made wave until KS came along. Have a watch of this clip of a fresh faced Julian Wilson and Owen Wright getting stuck in and mourn the loss of this most novel of waves.
5. Surf Berlin
Featuring probably the most dedicated novelty wave hunter in the world, Surf Berlin tells the story of one mans quest to surf a ship wave in the middle of Germany. Whilst it’s not technically non-ocean since it’s well… in the ocean, we thought this blokes dedication to novelty could not slip by un-lauded, so we’ve decided to stick it in. Whilst the full documentary of his exploits is not due to drop till next spring, there’s a fair amount of content around his journey on his website here. Here it is in his own words, along with a few teaser clips from his documentary:
“In a time when almost every phenomena in the western world is documented; one perfect wave, in a land without an ocean, has been left un-documented. Although breaking in nature, and appearing real, this rare German wave is a beautiful mistake of man-meets-nature: its head-high celestial curve is formed by a giant ship passing by a shallow Baltic harbor sandbar just two hours north of downtown Berlin. However, this unusual wave is almost impossible to catch, breaking big enough to surf about once a week, if that. And like many good things in life, the wave is ill-fated. The 30 year old ship that spawns this beautiful accident, will be replaced soon by a new ship that most likely won’t make a wave. Surf Berlin is a documentary film about one man on a winter-long quest to document a ride on this lone German wave before it, and the ship that creates it, are gone forever.” – www.surfberlin.com