Surfing in Munich – Germany’s River Riders

The Bavarian capital is a hot spot for surfers, hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, thanks to Munich’s Eisbach River.

Munich maybe 500km from the coast, but an ingenious band of surfers has not let the absence of conventional waves put them off. Munich is the birthplace of a new sport: river surfing.

That the wave exists at all is the result of a rare mistake in German engineering located in the Eisbach,  a small channel branching off the Isar River in downtown Munich. In order to slow the flow and create the necessary serenity in the Englischer Garten (English Garden), engineers submerged concrete blocks just beyond a bridge. This served to slow the water but it also created conditions ideal for surfing. Surfing in Munich started in the 70s, but it was only possible with the right amount of water flow. Over time, surfers learned to manipulate the wave, submerging boards and lashing them to the bridge pylons. The boards have a kind of smoothing effect on the water that creates a perfect wave even when the flow is low.

Eisbach River Winter Surf

Brrrr….putting the “Ice” in Eisbach. Image:

Munich’s river surfers have also been forced to master the art of avoiding going backwards. Even the most common place skills for an ocean surfer—paddling through big surf, duck-diving swell, vying for position in the line-up, dropping into waves, popping-up—are useless talents for river surfers. This particular skill however has helped Munich become the global hot spot for “Stationary Wave Riding” and is home to Surf & Style – the world’s biggest artificial standing wave.

Lasting around 3 weeks and situated at Munich Airport, experienced surfers and beginners can test their skills on the wave completely free of charge.  The highlight of the event are the European Championships (now in its fifth year) where Munich’s “urban surfers”, having honed their skills in Munich’s chilly Eisbach stream, come face-to-face with the international river surfing elite.

Surfing in Munich

Surf & Style at Munich Airport

Some useful links:

Surf & Style 2015, Munich Airport

“Citywave” Official Site


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