Project Update: Swiss pool could be filled before end of 2020

This is where things get weird. The Swiss surf team, like the Swiss Navy, exists, employs people, has cool uniforms and more despite the country not having an ocean or a sea. At the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games in Japan the Swiss team finished 23rd out of 54 nations. The result placed them just behind The Netherlands and ahead of Ecuador – both countries with coastlines.

Many of Switzerland’s estimated 45,000 active wave riders meet the qualification of being labeled as a “surfer” because they embark on a surf-focused vacation each year to Indo, France or Portugal. Soon, they might not have to travel so far, especially those in the French-speaking territory of Sion.

The country has two planned pools and a motivated population. As one of our readers told us recently on the WavePoolMag Facebook page “I am German and planning to move back to Europe next year as soon as a few wave pools open in Switzerland, and I will try to get a job close to the Alaia wave or later the one near Regensdorf (Germany.)”

alaia bay plan in switzerland
The Alaia Bay plan in Switzerland will be the first commercial wave pool in continental Europe

So yes, wave pools will factor into where European professionals locate themselves.

The Alaia Bay surf park’s draw is also that it’s another leisure/sports activity within an outdoors-crazy country and in an area dotted with some of the best skiing in the world. Alaia is located in the ski resort of Crans-Montana in the Swiss Alps adjacent resorts Verbier, Zermatt and Chamonix.

Construction on the full-size 46 module Wavegarden Cove is humming along nicely. https://alaiabay.ch/en/ The wave pool is anticipating completion by Spring 2021. The buildings around the Cove are finished and other key structures are nearing completion.

“The motor has been constructed and the metallic structure is also finished,” said Vincent Riba of Alaia. “Now, work starts on all the electrical and the programming. We have our fingers crossed that we can fill up the pool by the end of December, which would be a nice Christmas present.”

montage of wave pool in progress iin switzerland
Instagram posts detailing the progress of the Alaia wave pool

Cove machinery is modular and the length of waves generated depends on the number of modules installed. Each unit has several devices that work in sequence to push out water to form a wave. As the wave travels down the pool other modules activate to push the wave further down the line.

For perspective, the Wavegarden Cove demo center has 28 modules and The Wave Bristol has 40 modules. Melbourne’s Urbnsurf has 46 and the new mega-Cove in South Korea has 56.

Construction is being done by Losinger Marazzi, one of the larger builders in Switzerland. The company navigated the recent COVID-19 safety measures to stay on schedule at Alaia – social distancing being a bit easier on the 8,500 square meter project site.

The restaurants, surf shop, reception area, offices all have roofs and are ready for the next stage of completion which is doing the electrical and painting. The crew at Alaia hope to be in their new offices by the end of January.

December in Sion, Switzerland could very much look like this but with more snow

The Alaïa wave pool, once completed, will build on the company’s other sports offerings which include skateboarding, gymnastics, parkour and Freeski/snowboard training.

“We will be able to offer packages with a mix of activities: surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding during the same week, or even the same day,” added Victor. “It’s completely unique.”

In anticipation of the launch, Victor noted that they are already working closely with the different surf communities including the Swiss Surfing Association.

“We work to find opportunities where we can offer training to the Swiss Surfing team and we hope to organize the Swiss Championships here. We also work with a local association, Surfing Romandie (the French-speaking association). We plan to organize smaller events with them like movie screenings, workshops, etc.”

Alaia will be the first public wave pool in continental Europe.