Somewhere near Zarautz, deep in the Basque Country, José Manuel Odriozola has been tinkering in a pond. It’s a man-made pond with black plastic lining riding out of the sides four feet higher than the water level. What lies under the surface of this glassy puddle in a green and verdant valley, exactly what ‘Josema’ is tinkering with, very few people can say. All we do know is that he’s invented a new form of wave pool. A pool that throws up a wave more perfect than any other man-made wave you’ve ever seen.
For now, it’s only waist high – but barreling nonetheless. You can huck about 3 or 4 turns on it’s glassy wave face if you’re quick, before it hits a bank at the end of the pond. Inside a little cabin nearby sits Josema, tinkering with the controls. His is a system that works, and a system that he claims can be scaled up to make even bigger waves, and a system that can be replicated at any pretty much body of water in the world. And most important of all, it is efficient. Efficiency means cost effectiveness, which means it won’t use so much energy that it needs to rely on a surrounding infrastructure of water park madness, candy stores and cocktail bars. It could just be … a surf spot.
And that ride with three or four turns? You can actually keep going for as long of the body of water is long. By this summer they plan to unveil a longer wave in the head-high range. Beyond that, they’re not saying. Meantime, the waist-high wonder in the deep woods of Basque Country, is proving a perfect kindergarten for beginners, and an excellent training ground for local WCT pro surfer Aritz Aranuburu. He’s been riding it all year and treating it as a practice facility. And he’s invited his pro mates, Jordy Smith, Bobby Martinez and Roy Powers, all of whom were apparently knocked sideways by how good the wave is.
So, watch this space. The Wave Garden is only going to grow. And whatever you think of it now, one day you may find yourself staring at an 8ft glassy inland barrel, peeling for x-amount of fresh-water yards, and winking at you with an almond eye.
One day, maybe …