Making waves: Surf Snowdonia -
Britain’s first surfing lagoon


Gone are the days of having to check the surf report every morning. Destination: Audi visits a derelict smelting factory deep in the Welsh countryside that has been transformed into a surfer’s paradise.

The longest man-made waves in the world

It feels completely alien to be heading inland to find the perfect wave, but that’s exactly what awaits us at Surf Snowdonia. This £12 million project is Britain’s first ever surfing lagoon, and promises the longest man-made waves on the planet.

   The car we’ve chosen for the journey is Audi’s compact SUV, Audi Q5. Combining refinement and strong performance with fantastic practicality, this 3.0 TDI quattro model is the perfect machine for the job. As we arrive and unstrap our surfboards from the Q5’s roof rack, we’re left awestruck by the sheer size of the lagoon. ‘It’s over 300m long and contains 33,000 cubic litres of water,’ explains Andy Ainscough, Operations Director at Surf Snowdonia. ‘At the touch of a button we can create the perfect wave that breaks for more than 150 metres.’

‘At the touch of a button we can create the perfect wave that breaks for more than 150 metres’ - Andy Ainscough

   So how is that perfect wave created? Essentially, a snow plough-shaped arm is pulled from one end of the lagoon to the other, moving the water over a number of specially shaped reefs to create three types of wave. There’s a 2-metre wave for experienced surfers, a 1.2-metre wave along the sides, and beginner bays at either end. So there’s a wave to suit everyone, from seasoned professionals to complete newbies.

   It all sounds very impressive, but the only way to give Surf Snowdonia the seal of approval is to suit up, head into the water and give it a go for ourselves. We paddle out to the centre of the vast lagoon with Jo Dennison, Welsh National Surfing Champion and Head of the Surf Snowdonia Surf Academy. ‘There’s a wave every 60 seconds,’ she enthuses – that means surfers can practise the same manoeuvre again and again, knowing the quality of the wave will remain consistent.

   As a perfect wall of water rolls towards me, I turn and paddle with all of my strength. There’s a sudden surge of acceleration as the wave takes hold of the board. I’m too hasty in my efforts to stand up and slip off the board, wiping out spectacularly. I need more practice, but luckily I’m in the perfect place to do just that.

Written by John Silcox. Photographs by Alexander Rhind.


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