For those that have never heard of the revolution of wave pools including Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch, NLand, BSR Surf Resort- check them all out here.
A little background about my abilities:
Some might say I have been surfing for 6 years (if you count from the first day I ever went in the ocean with a surf board), but really I have been surfing for 4 years. I live in Cardiff, which means I have a couple of great breaks right at my doorstep and I take full advantage, surfing about 5 sessions a week. However, I have been to reef breaks, beach breaks, river mouth breaks, and point breaks. I have traveled to Bali, Hawaii, and the Philippines to surf more intense breaks. But overall, I really just learned to shortboard in the past two years, I still can't really duck dive or do epic snaps or throw buckets. I am an intermediate surfer.
I picked expert mode.
Now when you pick expert mode on the BSR Surf Resort website, you get this long disclaimer about the wave being dangerous and that even some professionals can't catch the wave (what??). I almost let it scare me away, but decided that if I was going to try an expert wave anywhere, a wave pool would probably be the safest place to try it out and practice. I thought about calling and asking, but I decided I didn't want anyone to talk me out of it.
The night before I started getting nervous and read as much as I could about the wave so that I wouldn't have driven 4 hrs to biff every wave. Here are some of those articles.
A First Timer's Guide to the Waco Wave - Video - This video is really long...
When I got back, everyone was asking me about it. So here are their questions so that you can also have an epic time surfing in Texas. YEW!
How much did it cost?
It was 90$ for expert, 75$ for intermediate, 60$ for beginner. 35$ for a one hour board rental.
How long was the session?
How many waves did you get?
I got 10 waves all to myself, 5 of which I properly rode. It took my three tries to make the take off. The way it works is you have 9 people out, with sets of 3, you group into 3 people and each of you decides which wave of the set you're going to take (they are all slightly different). I had the most success with wave 1 because it was slightly harder to catch and gave me more of a sense I was in the ocean. I was told wave 2 was the best though.
What was the water temp?
I went in August. When Waco has the sun beating on it all day. So it was a little too warm for my comfort.
What suit did you wear?
How was the board selection?
Surprisingly good! I ended up picking out a 6'9" Firewire thruster to make sure I could catch them with plenty of time (they have longboards too). Check out the vid.
How long were the waves?
The BSR site claims they are 8-10 sec long. That seemed about right. They felt like a normal wave time.
Did you get barreled?
A little bit! Check out the vid! I should have tucked my bum in... but I definitely got the vision.
How was the water?
My friend dubbed it "Listerine Shores", it was definitely a weird color, but business wise, I totally get it. When you get an Instagram picture of you being barreled in a turquoise wave, it just gives you tropical vibes. But yes it's weird to be surfing in fresh water.
Do they give you any instruction or direction?
Not really. When I got there they said go pick out your board and then wait on the beach until your time is called. I decided to started walking around to find people that were in my 5 pm group (there were 9 of them). I found some, and luckily they had already surfed a couple of sessions and told me where to sit. There is a lifeguard out in the water too that you can ask, just tell them it is your first time and ask for some pointers.
How big is expert mode?
It is about 4-5 feet. Check out the vids to get a better idea, I am 5'5" to give you some perspective.
Would you go again?
Yes! But. I would definitely make a trip out of it, brings friends that want to hang out in Austin, do some of the water park features and cable park features and check out NLand too.
Do they take pictures?
No, but seems like a good business decision.
Can you pick between lefts and rights?
In your one hour session you get 5 rights and 5 lefts. They switch it half way through so it is 30 min on each side.
I surf intermediate waves at home all the time. I don't get to surf expert waves unless I travel or conditions are perfect (and there are usually 10 guys paddling for every wave on days like that), so that's what I really wanted to get comfortable with. In the end the "expert" wave wasn't as expert as they claimed it to be.
Overall I had a blast, afterwards I went to grab a drink at the swim up bar overlooking the break where you can chill and drink Piña Coladas for hours. The whole set-up was made for hanging out and having a blast with friends (whether they surf or not). The water lapping even sounds like the ocean.
Whether your a pool surfing fan or not, you can't deny that these waves are great for training. And neither can the USA Olympic Surf Team....
A quote from right after the experience.
"Paddling out was nerve wracking, I knew the pressure was on, it was like being called into every wave by all the locals and everything was on you. It was my first time so it took a couple of tries but as I pumped down the line on the first wave, it was as if the wall, Texas, the Listerine Shores, and everything dissapeared and all I saw was a steep face and a feathering lip. Pure stoke. With a three stroke paddle, it felt really intuitive, the waves were easy to catch and I can't wait to take friends."
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Good luck out there!