Couple Goals: Hit the wave pool, nix the matching polyester outfits, here’s why
Dripping with sweat, pulse racing, breathing heavily… there’s a reason you like to watch your significant other work out. These physical signs mimic arousal, yet some of us might only see old sweat pants and faded Under Armour gear. But put BAE in a form-fitting wettie, topped off with a stoked smile and surfing can be quite the aphrodisiac.
But problems can arise when one person is head and shoulders above the other in ability. Pushing your partner out on a 10-foot day at Sunset when they aren’t ready will do nothing to help your relationship. Likewise recommending Beast mode if they’ve only been surfing for six months will not lead to a happy day at the pool.
In the early days of Urbnsurf, the Melbourne pool aired a clip of surfing’s own Jay-Z and Beyonce as Jack Freestone and Alana Blanchard lit up a night session. Both surfed the same wave settings with no problem. Both are pros and can handle anything the wave machine throws out at them. But what if the dynamic is more Bethany and Aaron than JackAlana?
In a clip out of Texas, Bethany Hamilton worked on airs while her husband was cruising the inside peelers on a longboard. Both have very different surfing skills.
The great equalizer, wave pools can offer varied wave settings for all ability levels all within the same day. Add easy access to facilities, food and anything you might need for enjoyable water time and surf parks could be the next go-to couple destination.
On a peak summer weekend at Urbnsurf, the wave pool offers Expert, Advanced, Intermediate and Cruiser settings all within the same day. In a Wavegarden Cove system, the bay section of the pool offers whitewater beginner waves.
The great thing about this setup is that the more experienced surfer in the couple can surf Advanced turns out the back while their partner works on their pop up in waist-deep water.
Online travel agency Red Balloon has tipped surf parks as a future hot commodity for couple get-aways.
“We are testing a couples surf through the Red Balloon website,” said James Miles of Urbnsurf. “They identified one of their key markets as ‘date night’ and couples looking for experiences.”
The package offers a one-hour 45-minute lesson for both persons along with wetsuit and board, land practice and a few other perks.
“Over the lesson, you’ll learn safety techniques, basic surf etiquette and board control in a safe and controlled environment with a fully qualified surf coach,” said Red Balloon. “Your private learn to surf lesson is held in The Bays, a dreamy training ground for novices generating gentle, rolling whitewater waves.”
Former professional surfer Sarah Beardmore and her beginning surfer partner Kimberly enjoyed a summer weekday at Urbnsurf and had a good time despite their ability differences.
“Kimberley has only been surfing a couple of years so the intermediate level was too confronting for her,” said Sarah. “But her first time going in she wasn’t afraid and gave it a go. We talked to a lot of other couples and they had similar issues.”
Sarah added that Urbnsurf’s Cruiser Session helps bridge the skill level gap experienced by couples.
Outside of the Cove design, several new parks are opening in the next few years that will use technology that offers waves for different surfing abilities all within the same hour-long session.
Endless Surf uses software that pumps out individual waves based on the client’s order for that session. The company’s Swell Studio syncs the waves with the surfer’s RFID wristband. So an expert on a high-performance shortboard can share the same session and take-off zone as their intermediate significant other on a mini-mal.
Wave tanks also quell other surf fears. For those with galeophobia (excessive fear of sharks), a wave pool is great. However, the busy environment of a surf park presents its own set of stressors that can compound the surfing experience.
“For some learners, even on the small setting, the wave pool can be confronting because it’s cement and there’s a wall next to you,” added Sarah. “It’s also quite hectic and there’s a lot going on, like another person coming on each wave, so it’s not as forgiving as a quiet, open beach.”
Another thing to consider is that a couple’s getaway is not solely about surfing. Many of today’s surf parks are near world-class attractions. Urbnsurf is a stone’s throw from Australia’s art capital Melbourne and any one of its 50 museums. Adventure Parc Snowdonia sits in the jaw-dropping mountainscape of Snowdonia National Park while The Wave in Bristol sits nestled in the lovely English countryside. And at Alaia Bay in the Swiss Alps, a couple can enjoy a post-surf fondue dinner in a medieval castle.
But for many, it’s the newness of wave pools and the unique experience that’s the main attraction for a getaway.
“It was really exciting to be there and because it’s so new I can’t compare it to anything,” continued Sarah. “And seeing your first human-made wave of that quality was amazing. We looked at each other when we first walked up and Kimberly got excited because she knew how happy I was to see and surf these waves.”