Germany eyes world’s largest wave pool project

Germany! Oktoberfest! Kraftwerk! That creepy Netflix series about time travel (Dark)! And now it looks like this land of infinite complexities will add the world’s largest wave pool to its list of cultural achievements. Surfwrld is on-trend for what wave pools are doing as of late 2020: Bigger, better, faster and multi-use.

On an abandoned coal mine three-hours from the North Sea in the eastern Ruhrm region, a group is planning two giant wave pools and a standing wave. The group pledges that the project will use renewable energies and have a reduced carbon footprint. They also boast that no untouched land will be absorbed into the project, which is a big plus when it comes to area approval.

In winter when the town of Werne is adrift in snow, two German universities (RWTH Aachen and TH Cologne) will use the surf tanks for hydraulic and civil research purposes. The team behind the project includes experienced developers, hydraulic engineers, finance and marketing experts working under the management of Dr. Michael Detering. There is momentum behind this project with the town website featuring the surf park design on its website landing page.

Sounds amazing. Sounds perfect – as so many first-push projects do. We connected with Carl-Luis Scheer of Surfwrld to answer a few of our questions and to go into detail about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of Germany’s latest wave pool concept.

Artist renderings of main Surfwrk facility and amenities

How far along is the project – Do you have the money to build it?
Last week we took the next step and secured a vital decision from the community council which allows us to carry on our planning. We conducted a one-and-a-half year planning process to eliminate or mitigate all foreseeable legal project hurdles before going to the public. Our background is that our core team provides decades of complex infrastructure project development experience. Financial planning is underway too, and there’s still room for participation. For example, we are planning a crowd-investing campaign not only for marketing purposes, but to allow many people to have the opportunity to participate in the success of Surfwrld.

The design is very innovative. What technology will power the waves at Surfwrld?
Together with two German universities (RWTH Aachen and TH Cologne), we have developed a unique shape for our surf pools. The larger pool will be around 250 m long, 80 m wide, and 2 m deep. (Editor’s note: In American measurements that’s 920 feet long, 262 feet wide and 6.5 feet deep, an area that could easily accommodate three football fields end-to-end.) The effective `surfable´ distance will be around 200 m (650 feet) which is larger than many existing and planned surf parks to date. The technology behind Surfwrld will be a surprise. In the winter season the park will convert to a research facility.

surfwrld wave pool design
The wave pool design is unique and will double as a research facility in winter months

Two pools is a unique concept. Will each be the world’s largest wave pool or will it be the combination of the two wave pools that back your claim as the world’s largest?
As you mentioned, we are planning two surf pools. The first one will be built in the first construction phase, the second one later on. When both surf pools are open, Surfwrld will be the largest surf park in the world.

You are also adding standing waves – which technology?
We are currently in talks with several suppliers of standing waves. Due to that, we cannot disclose any further information on this one, but we will keep you posted.

Was it easier to plan the wave pool on an abandoned mine rather than starting construction in an open area?
There are many reasons we are going to build Surfwrld on an abandoned mine in Werne. When the mine was closed in 1975 many buildings were removed and the owner rehabilitated the site. Since then, the area is an industrial wasteland. The location of the area is great – 10 million people within one hour’s drive, 20 million within two hours – and we can provide a sustainable use for the brownfield, avoiding “new land use” which is common for other installations. We also know the area very well because of several (soil) surveys done by the owner. And it is just a five-minutes off the Autobahn.

The team behind what could potentially be the world’s largest surf park. Image via Werne.de

You chose to go with an RV park for accommodations rather than luxury condominiums, why is that?
RV is very popular in Germany and in the Netherlands, which are not too far off. That’s why we chose to go with an RV park in the first construction phase. Werne provides many hotels itself and is, due to its location at the eastern edge of the Ruhr Region, not too far off some bigger cities with a huge variety of accommodations. We will decide later if we will build other accommodations when there is some feedback from our customers.

What will be the overall “vibe” of Surfwrld? Youth Hostel or Golf Resort?
Neither nor. The Ruhr Region is an area with a huge variety of cultures and people. We are looking forward to all our visitors. So we are creating a feel-good place where everybody feels like they are on vacation!

Pure Surf Camps are very popular in the German market, do you see Surfwrld fulfilling a similar role?
Surfwrld will, even in the first construction phase, be the largest surf park in Germany. We will offer a huge variety of options. At Surfwrld you can surf on your own or book surf lessons in our surf school. You can rent equipment from our rental store and purchase new gear in our surf shops. After an exciting day at Surfwrld you can refresh in one of our gastronomic venues and watch the other surfers from our grandstand. We offer the opportunity for businesses to hold meetings at Surfwrld. Furthermore, there will be events, surf competitions and maybe some concerts at Surfwrld. We are anticipating many creative ideas!

Surfwrld listing in the WavePoolMag SurfPlanner

What makes Surfwrld special?
We are not only a surf park. In the winter months, where the German weather is not that suitable for this kind of outdoor activity, a large part of Surfwrld will be converted to hydraulic and civil research purposes. To meet these needs, the park will have some technical features that go far beyond the limits of its use solely as a sporting facility.

Surfing is going to be Olympic next year in Tokyo and the Ruhr Region wants to host the Olympics in 2032. Do you want to host the Olympics at Surfwrld?
The Olympics in the Ruhr Region is a fascinating project, like Surfwrld. We would be willing to host the Olympics! Our pools are suitable and we are the only surf park in the Ruhr Region.

Will you be completed by 2023?
The schedule is tight. We plan to complete major construction in late 2022. We plan to start the facility with a research season and to open it for the surfers in spring 2023. If you are keen to be one of our premier guests, you can already buy your pass at our website. First come – first surfed!

(Please note brands: Surfwrld, Urbnsurf, Surf Era and a host of other companies refer to themselves in all capital letters. The WavePoolMag editorial style guide follows AP guidelines closely and will not use all caps when referencing private brands.)