Published on April 19th, 2016 | by BörnyPhoto by Blackforestwave | 0
A bunch of surf enthusiasts are planning to build a river wave in Pforzheim, Germany. The “Blackforestwave” will not only create a vibrant river surfing scene in this region but also bring an innovative attraction to the city. If everything goes smoothly the wave will be finished by 2017. Read who’s behind the project, where the name comes from and how they strategically promote the project within their community.
Name of wave project: Blackforestwave
We’re always stoked to learn about new wave projects and curious to hear who’s behind Blackforestwave?
Late summer day in 2014, Steffen Rose was paddling in the river. The next surf trip was already planned and there were only a few weeks left to get ready for the trip. While walking along the river, Steffen discovered a small river wave. “Surfing in here would be great!” The idea was born. Just a few weeks later he came back to this spot and brought a rope. He fixed the rope to the bridge and tried to surf. It worked – but not exactly well. After this frustration he went back home with the idea to build a surfable river wave.
The council was positively surprised about the wave concept.
As a mechanical engineering student at the Pforzheim University, Steffen had the right skills to start the project “Blackforestwave” with two other classmates. Their goal: to make the river in Pforzheim more attractive. After an analysis of different locations they identified 8 potential spots and checked the technical details of them. One of these spots seemed particularly suited for a stationary wave. They made some drawings and worked out different concepts to integrate a wave in the river. After that, they presented the idea to the municipal council. They were positively surprised about the wave concept and decided to search for additional people to continue working on the idea.
Only a few months later, “blackforestwave e.V. (association)” was born. Today, about 30 people are all working together on different aspects of the wave project. We are students and young people who want to surf and bring an innovative attraction to the city.
The river surfing scene is exploding around the world … what do you think makes river surfing so special?
A river surf spot is like a skate pool … just better. It’s urban, cool and it’s a sport. River surfing is available for everybody who has access to a river. Even old people love to watch river surfers. River surfing is also innovative. A stationary wave can be created by manipulating the current and adding a few specific changes.
What is your personal connection to river surfing?
Since I’m 16, I love to surf in the ocean. But usually, I can only make it 2-3 weeks to the ocean during an entire year. It’s difficult to progress in such a short time. During the year, I need something similar to train my balance, to stay fit, just to be in water and feel a board on my feet.
What exactly is “Blackforestwave” and why the name?
The City Pforzheim is also called “gate of the black forest”. If you leave the city, you can reach the black forest in just a few minutes. The black forest is a famous place which is know all over the world. The black forest is international. We also want to be international. That’s why we called our project “Blackforestwave”.
What inspired you to start this project? What is your main motivation and what is your ultimate goal?
Our main motivation is to be innovative and get some young people working together and have fun. Our ultimate goal is to build a flexible structure that we can assemble to create a river wave anywhere.
Tell us about the current status of the project. Where are you standing right now?
We want to surf and bring an innovative attraction to the city.
At the moment we’re working on different concepts to create a wave for only a specific period. That means we need to change something in the river but we need to be able to undo it after the surfing period. We just started a cooperation with two Universities to run current simulations based on different methods. We are also talking to different people in the city and reach out to important people in politics. We plan a complete marketing strategy to find sufficient sponsors and supporter when we go public with out project in Pforzheim (at the moment there are only a few hundred people who know about the project). And there are also the ecology, safety, law and finance parts that we are currently working on.
Let’s talk about the location of the wave … have you already figured out a suitable spot?
One spot is definitely attractive. But we are also checking out alternatives.
Have you already conducted a feasibility study? If so, what are the results?
Yes, we did a feasibility study at the Pforzheim University. This was actually the first part of the project. The result show that there is potential to create a wave in the river.
Any plans to cooperate with local institutions or associations?
At the moment we cooperate with the Universitys Stuttgart, Kalrsuhe and Pforzheim. We cooperate with RESTUBE, which is a great and innovative company for inflatables. We also cooperate with other small companies and there will be more cooperations in the next months.
Building river waves is usually a costly venture. How do you guys fund such a huge project?
- Find some great sponsors (we have already first offers)
- Reduce the costs as much we can. We want to create a wave with minimum of changes in the river. We are going to work together with companies that sponsor their expertise and material.
- We might start a crowd-funding campaign.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges in this project and how will you tackle them?
We need to challenge all kinds of shareholders at this project. For example there are the fishers and the “owner” (state) of the river. If you tell them, that you change the current of a river and there will be people surfing every day, they may start to work against you. In the first step, our wave will only be temporary. All changes in the river will be made in such a way, that they will be removable. After a big river surfing event for instance, everything will be removed and the river will be back to normal. If such an event is successful, we hope that people want the wave to be permanent. After this, we will try to find a solution for a permanent construction in the river.
How does your current time schedule look like … when do you think will you be surfing on Blackforestwave ultimately?
We think, that we will be able to surf in spring 2017. So we have one year left to build the wave. The responsible person from Pforzheim City thinks, that this is a realistic plan. We are not on at beginning anymore. We are working since two years on the project and we have already acquired specific knowledge in various fields.
What has been the most interesting “lesson learned” so far? What would you recommend future wave projects to do / not to do?
We hope that we will be able to surf in spring 2017.
Be careful when going public with your project. If you have an idea you don’t need to share it with the world over night. We are working since two years on the project and I guess no more than 300 people know about our project. We are working with a private Facebook group to communicate the idea only to people we want to. We will feel ready to publish the project in our area (newspaper, public Facebook page, website, poster etc.) when we finished the whole concept and when we are able to answer all critical questions.
Anything else you would like to pass on to our readers?
Believe in your ideas, be careful when going public and involve all stakeholders from the beginning. If you want to get in touch with us, simply pop us a message at email@example.com.
Fill in the blanks
We’d love to see ___Sebastian Steudtner (big wave surfer, RESTUBE ambassador)___ shredding Blackforestwave one day.
We’ve always wanted to ___make Pforzheim as a city more attractive.
You’re not really a river surfer unless ___you understand the physics behind it.
Our favourite river surfer is ___a surfer who shares his wave with everybody.
Thanks for sharing your passion and time with us — all the best for your project and hope to see you guys shredding on this wave soon!