You may have seen it recently on our networks, part of the Wyve team went to the Alaïa Bay wave pool in Switzerland for a competition. This wave pool in the middle of the mountains gives a sci-fi feeling!
Why did we go there? What were our feelings and surfing sensations?
We tell you everything!
One year after our first session there, we went back to do some new R&D tests, with new boards and new surfers. One of our riders (Lionel) had decided to participate in a competition organized by Alaia Bay and Boardriders.
We took several Wyve boards with us that had the same shape but a structurally different construction in terms of composite and 3D mesh. The goal of this process was to have one of our team riders, Lionel Lourenço, test these boards in order to collect and identify his feelings on each precise moment of the wave and then link them to our mechanical test benches. In other words, to correlate the feelings on the ground with data measured in the laboratory. Tests on an artificial wave, offering similar conditions, allowed us to compare boards more easily between them thanks to the repetition of identical maneuvers.
Lionel was able to test them both in free surfing and during the friendly competition. We were also with Tony Voisin, who shot all the surf sessions during the weekend.
"When I arrived at Alaïa, I was like a kid in front of Aqualand. I just wanted to get in the water and see what the Wyve boards had in their bellies. Before going in the water, I first took the time to observe the wave entry, the break line, the hollow and flat parts of the wave. I started to visualize the different options that could be available to me. When I arrived in the pool, I felt the same excitement as during my first session in Uluwatu or Taapuna. I was there for a period of time and each wave had to be surfed and optimized to its maximum. I didn't want to waste one at all. So I concentrated on getting my first wave.
At the take off, I was surprised by the hollow that the wave could offer. On my first run at the bottom of the wave, I felt the board responding perfectly to the compression in the turn and in the exit of the bottom, just before the lightening phase where the board sent back all the acquired energy. I was able to make a first tight top turn. It was the first of many surf days, during which the Wyve boards gave me a great feeling."
Afriendly competition alongside the test sessions
As part of the Alaia Bay x Boardriders competition, 24 amateur surfers, including Lionel, competed during the qualifying phases. These phases were composed of 4 heats of 4 surfers having right to four waves each one: two rights and two lefts of the Wave Garden. The best score of each surfer's right and left were added together to make a total score. The surfer with the best result of each heat was directly selected for the final stages with pro riders from Quiksilver and Roxy. Lionel finished far and away first in the qualifying heat with very good results, scored by Patrick Beven and Christian Bradley.
"At the end of the day, the Alaïa x Boardriders challenge started. The only motivation for me was to win to get through the rounds and enjoy surfing as much as possible. The heats went really fast and I was really happy to be able to test the different wave levels
For the semi-finals, the 6 amateur surfing winners found themselves competing in a duo with a pro-rider. Lionel found himself paired with Francisca Veselko, aka Kika, a Portuguese surfer from the Roxy team. Each duo had to compete with two other duos, randomly chosen. All surfers had to surf only the barrel mode (B1). Despite the good results that Francisca and Lionel had, second and third best results of the semis, one of the duos they were competing against got the best result, which stopped them at the doors of the final... They still finished on the 3rd step of the podium.
"I got caught up in the game and in the semi-final, I tried a barrel backside nograb to stand out from the competitors, but unfortunately, the tube was a little short and my pelvis hit the curl... I got caught by the lip and then fell. We weren't far from making the final, so I was a little disappointed, but satiated."
A multiplicity of waves that require a little time to adapt
During the weekend, we had the chance to test different types of waves: Experts (T1, T2, B1), Pro (T2, B1) and T3. In other words, all the waves with expert and pro maneuvers of the pool. We preferred the T3 waves which were only opened during the competition. It is the biggest wave with maneuvers where it was possible to realize aerial maneuvers, rollers, carves etc...
We immediately noticed that the feeling of surfing in the pool and in the sea was very different. First of all, as the water was soft, we felt less buoyancy. In addition, we felt a current of water that turned in a specific direction.
"It took us some time to adapt, for the first wave, the best was to cruising and understand how the wave worked with the water movements. This allowed us to get up to speed in the wave to feel it and identify its potential.
Being able to surf a perfect wave that repeats itself identically makes Alaïa Bay, a unique experience in sensations and rich in tests. The setting was magical with a very friendly atmosphere. However, nothing can compete with surfing sessions in a natural environment. Surfing waves from home, totally random, waiting for the set, paddling towards the wave, feeling free to have the choice, and surpassing yourself in difficult conditions gives surfing more adrenaline.
What we take away from this experience
We take away a lot of positives from this experience. First of all, in terms of data from the field tests, which will be used and correlated with those from our test benches. This will allow us to develop our products and validate certain mechanical results measured. Moreover, it was the first time that a Wyve board was surfed during a competition and we are very happy because it has largely proven itself (Bravo Lionel!)
In our opinion, these facilities are very interesting for the training of high level athletes and the development of product performance. Nevertheless, this type of session will remain exceptional for us, because most of our "field" tests can be performed in natural conditions.