During the last few months several of the world’s best surfers have tested a new Wavegarden facility in Alaïa Bay, Sion, in the Swiss Alps. Ahead of the official opening on May 1, Hawaii’s Zeke Lau, Basque Country’s Aritz Aranburu and Maud Le Car from France surfed the Wavegarden’s 20-wave menu under the snow-capped mountains, 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level.
“I’ve surfed Kelly’s pool, Waco, and here, and I think I had the most fun and surfed the best in Switzerland, which is crazy,” offered Zeke Lau. “I’ve probably only done two backflips in my life, but after a few days here I landed four or five. I just felt I got better at surfing today, which is a rare feeling.”
Alaïa Bay includes new Wavegarden technology, including improved air and tube riding sections, as well as Waikiki and Malibu waves which break in the reef areas for the beginners during exclusive sessions.
“We had some doubts that a smaller lagoon configuration might affect the quality of the waves,” said Josema Odriozola, CEO of Wavegarden. “However, we have been able to prove that we can deliver a 46-module wave system, like we have in Melbourne, but in a lagoon without large bays/beginner zones, and not affect the quality of the waves in any way”.
“I am really grateful that I came here to train and now I am going back to France with more confidence and knowledge, especially in the tube,” noted professional surfer Maud Le Car. “That will allow me to chase bigger barrels at La Graviere with more confidence”.
Alaïa Bay will be the first commercial surf-focused wave pool in mainland Europe, and one of the world’s most unique surf destinations. Located in Sion, one of the most sun-blessed towns in Switzerland, it is already an international sports hub. Now surfing can be added to the world-class skiing, snowboarding, freeskiing, skateboarding, BMX, and mountain biking facilities that operate in the nearby winter and summer resorts.
“Switzerland is a country that has practically everything, although it was missing a wave,” observed Adam Bonvin, founder of Alaïa Bay. “Now we have a local surf spot to which everyone is invited”.