Wave Pool Reviews by You: Alaia Bay with Remi Chaussemiche
Search “wave pool” through social platforms and you’ll find a hive of influencers and pros claiming “best pool ever.” But what about us mortal surfers who have to trade hard-earned currency for a crack at perfect waves. We might feel differently after sinking a day’s wage for some surf time. Doesn’t our opinion count? Sure there is Trip Advisor, but it’s KarenLand – a minefield of complaints about the Cappucino foam being too airy or whatever.
Consider this installment on WavePoolMag a platform for the proletariat, the neighborhood bro and Jane Doe. Each month we will ask a dedicated wave pool surfer to deliver some quick thoughts on an artificial surf spot they’ve visited. It’s not rocket science or a complete guide (a sample of which you can find on our YouTube channel.) but it’s a fun peek into the world’s wave pools from a consumer standpoint. These are wave pool reviews by you.
This month Neil “Moonwalker” Armstrong spoke with Remi Chaussemiche
You’d be forgiven for thinking a landlocked, mountainous country known for its alpine scenery, love of skiing, and cheese, wouldn’t be a smart choice for a wave pool. But geographically, smack in the middle of western Europe, attracting big tourist numbers, and with one of the highest GDP rankings on the continent, Switzerland has a knack for promoting quality goods and experiences.
You’ll find Alaia Bay in Valais, within easy striking distance of several ski resorts, and right by Sion airport.
Remi Chaussemiche, from France (Podcaster and European surf industry guru), gives us his views on Alaia Bay.
Equipment & Practice
I’ve been there for a full day where I had the opportunity to surf different waves. To be honest I don’t think it really helped me to improve my surfing. I’m more in that phase of my surfing life where my performance level in smaller surf is not getting in any better, but I assume if I would go more often I could probably fine-tune some details that would help a lot. So far my experience at Alaia was just a test.
I was riding a shortboard made for average waves, a Pyzalien 2 from Pyzel. I think those daily drivers are perfect for waves like Alaia. A little extra volume from my normal performance shortboard, and an inch shorter. It helps to float more in freshwater, and a shorter board was cool, as the pool wave has a tighter radius than a natural wave.
I surfed the pro, expert, advanced, and malibu settings. The expert was the most interesting because it gives you enough power to make solid turns and work on your performance surfing.
The pro setting is fun because you can get decent little barrels. Even though it’s small compared to what you can get in the ocean, it’s technical and not that easy.
The advanced setup is good for experienced surfers, but a little bit soft in terms of power. But I think this is the most interesting mode for average surfers who know how to surf down the line and want to work on turns. They can improve very fast because of the repetition and the predictability of the waves.
The Waikiki and Malibu modes are just a blast for beginners. They can get plenty of waves without being stressed by crowds, smashed by the ocean’s fury, or need to worry about anything else but their surfing.
To be honest, in 30 years of surfing I’ve never seen pure beginners getting that many quality waves for their first surfing experience. There is a lot more courtesy than in the ocean, everyone takes their turn. lifeguards make sure there is no sneaking, so you just have to focus on surfing when it’s your turn, and cheering on others when it’s theirs.
For 120 CHF (US$130) a session you’re guaranteed to have 15 opportunities to catch decent waves. For me, it was a bit expensive because I live next to the ocean and normally get my opportunities when I paddle out. That said, the luxury of having repetition, guaranteed opportunities and no hassles in the lineup makes you appreciate your investment.
When I think of friends who don’t live close to the surf, they need to spend money to get to the ocean. And when they arrive they’re not even guaranteed to have a single decent opportunity. In contrast to the unpredictability of nature, I think it’s worth the money.
For me, the complex is unreal: the wave, mixed with the Alaia chalet (skateparks, trampoline park, etc) and the ski resort of Crans-Montana, means you can have a full action sports experience in a short time.
In terms of the wave, I think it should have an aerial section/mode that’s quick and easy to set up. They have one, but it’s quite a process to get it working. An air mode would allow faster progressions for elite surfers and would bring a more interesting show for the public. It would position Alaia Bay as a real high-performance surf location for the whole of Europe.
Also, I think optimizing more spaces for spectators would be a great improvement, so it’d be easier to organize larger events.