Last week I was in Melbourne where among other things a good mate and I checked out Urbnsurf’s artificial wave which is located not far from the airport. We didn’t get in, but after watching a few sessions, I could definitely see doing it for the experience alone.
The basic deal is that each session has a different power setting, so you can choose whichever one appeals. The lowest power setting looked quite do-able on a long board, but not great on a short board as the waves were too small and soft. We saw the intermediate and advanced offerings (see above) which were more interesting. The maximum setting creates a quick barrel (lasting maybe 2-4 seconds). It’s breaking in waist deep water and the bottom’s concrete, so I can imagine it could be a contact opportunity.
The machine produces 10-12 waves in around 45 seconds, then resets for a similar period). As a practical matter you should get 10-12 waves in a 50 minute session.
The cost to play is $79 for the beginner mode (where you get to surf with 17 other people) and then it goes up by $10 a session to the $99 for advanced. There’s an expert option which we didn’t see, that apparently offers 2 m face slabbing barrels with a smaller maximum number of surfers and a 50% higher wave count for $144.
One other important note. The set up delivers rights on one side and lefts on the other. You have to choose which side you’ll be on because there’s no way to mix it up in the same session.
If you’re thinking of just rocking up and renting a wetty (it was 22 in the water in January, but gets serious cold in winter) and a board, you’ll want to budget an extra $100 for the rental.
Having watched it for a few hours, I got the impression that the power is very much restricted to the pocket. If you get too far out on the shoulder it looked pretty gutless. Also it seemed as though if you got caught behind it was pretty difficult to get back to the open face.
Taking off was kind of interesting as well. Everybody forms a queue along one wall, and the first person paddles into position when the next set starts. The moment they take off (or go over the falls) the next person is going hard to get the following wave. Wave interval looked to be 4-5 seconds, so if you don’t get in, you’re outta luck. Lots of people messed up their takeoffs (there were hardly any skilled people in the water) so the next person taking off was practically on top of the unsuccessful rider. Even so I didn’t see too many actual collisions.
The take off as you can probably tell is right near the appex of the pool, so you have a lovely concrete wall about 1.5 m from the take-off spot. You’re going into an ever widening pool, so I don’t imagine it’s a big deal. Rides were around 10-15 seconds long (so not dissimilar to typical natural conditions).
Talking to one of the workers, we learned that catching 10-12 waves an hour is quite a good work out (and remember, there’s a fast return rip to carry you out the back again and no duck diving is involved).
Hope you’re all getting a few fun ones, and I’ll try to post some more postcards soon.