Scottish wave pool makes room for university research on site

Lost Shore Surf Resort and Edinburgh Napier University have announced a unique collaboration that will see ground-breaking surfing research take place in Scotland. The partnership, which will be called SurfLab, represents a global first in terms of a formal research relationship between further education and a wave pool.

The agreement will see Lost Shore Surf Resort, Scotland’s first inland surfing destination, and the university research areas such as surf therapy, high performance surfing (including Olympic pathways), disability surfing, and equipment research and development. It will also deliver unique learning opportunities for students and wider industry.

The resort, which was previously known as Wavegarden Scotland, will be a major leisure and tourism destination. The family-friendly £55m landmark development in Ratho, near Edinburgh is expected to open to the public in summer 2024.

The collaboration will also see numerous research projects delivered, and bolster Edinburgh Napier University’s academic reputation around the world.

It is envisioned that research will not just focus on surfing but will also develop research and teaching opportunities across other disciplines such as hospitality and tourism.

As part of the partnership, Lost Shore Surf Resort will provide the university with onsite office space and ongoing amenities free of charge.

Hadden and Professor Gary Hutchison
(Left) Andy Hadden, founder of Tartan Leisure Ltd and Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University

The company behind the surfing resort, Tartan Leisure Ltd, has already shown its commitment to research when they funded the world’s first surf therapy PhD that was undertaken by Dr Jamie Marshall and completed in September 2022.

“Scotland’s first inland surf resort is coming ever closer to opening and it is exciting that we can reveal this collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University,” said Andy Hadden, founder of Tartan Leisure Ltd which is developing Lost Shore Surf Resort.

“The Lost Shore Surf Resort has always prioritised evidence based practice and rigorous research within our project. Indeed, that is why we funded the world’s first PhD exploring surf therapy with Dr Marshall and the university. We can now continue this relationship and will take surfing based research to new levels alongside our partners in the SurfLab.”

Lost Shore Surf Resort will provide office space as well as all amenities, utilities and WiFi free of charge to the university. Where possible, they will also provide free use of the wave pool for research and teaching opportunities.

Lost Shore Surf Resort and Edinburgh Napier University plan to benefit from using the Wavegarden Cove (like this one in Australia) for research and more.

Dr Jamie Marshall, Research Fellow School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, said the research is extremely valuable because of the controlled environment.

“Lost Shore Surf Resort will provide world class facilities to Scottish surfers of all abilities,” said Dr. Marshall. “The uniquely controllable environment will also allow for specialised research not possible in other contexts.

“With funding from Lost Shore Surf Resort, I undertook the world’s first surf therapy doctorate at Edinburgh Napier University to better understand how surfing is being utilised to support a range of vulnerable populations around the world. I am thrilled that the SurfLab collaboration will further deepen ties and ensure Scotland is at the forefront of all aspects of surfing research.
“Studies consistently show that exposure to our seas, lochs and waterways (blue health) can be great for our mental wellness and Lost Shore Surf Resort will allow people to do this in a controlled environment. This venture will help us better understand how we can harness, and optimise, the power of surfing to improve wellbeing both within intervention contexts, and for the general population.”

Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University, said it’s the perfect facility to mix academic research and surfing performance.

“I am delighted to see our partnership with Lost Shore Surf Resort continue to grow through this new and exciting initiative,” said Hutchison. “The Lost Shore team have a desire to understand their impact on performance, wellbeing and society. The alignment of this vision, with our own academic signature and expertise, creates an exciting space to deliver research, innovation and knowledge exchange that will not only enhance local communities but will have impact globally.”

“As the top Scottish modern university for research power and impact we pride ourselves on being the home of difference makers and it is initiatives such as this that will benefit our students, staff and wider community. It has been a real pleasure to work with this ambitious and innovative organisation and I have great optimism for the future.”