Every German surfer has heard about the artificial surf wave in Langenfeld. We took a look at the thing and talked to Hannes Schrot, the Langenfeld wave manager
Hannes Schrot, like most of those who work in the scene, has studied sports and has been there since the standing wave in Langenfeld opened to the public six months ago. What Hannes is actually responsible for, he does not really know himself, because he is actually everything in personal union: surf coach, sales manager, press office and janitor. What sounds like a hopeless confusion, Hannes gets surprisingly well bundled, and he even had time for a little interview.
Unit Park Tech is more known for wakeboard obstacles than for landlocked surf. How did the idea to build a standing wave come up?
The basic idea was born on a flight to Surfexpo. One of the founding members of Unit Park Tech sat on the plane with my boss and there the idea came up to build a standing wave as a plug in into a lake.
Can you provide some key data about the shaft?
The shaft has a total width of 8 meters, 12 pumps are running at the same time, setting the second in motion with 15,000 liters of water. The power consumption is 350 kwh. The shaft size can be adjusted between 1.10m and 1.60m via ballast tanks.
The shaft was designed in cooperation with the Technical University of Munich. Was the surfing experience or the final grade the most important factor in the selection of engineers?
Actually all engineers involved were experienced surfers, apart from that we consulted experienced river surfers such as Quirin Rohleder who brought in their years of experience with standing waves.
Before Langenfeld there was already another method of building standing waves like the one used in the Jochen Schweizer Arena. Why did Unit Park Tech choose a different, new method?
Because the shaft floats completely in the lake, the lifting capacity of the pumps is massively reduced, which of course ultimately helps to minimize energy consumption. Moreover, no chemicals are added to the water, no drinking water is consumed and therefore no water is polluted. It was therefore also a conscious decision in favour of environmental protection and sustainability.
The project “standing wave in Langenfeld” is nevertheless of a commercial nature. Is the wave well enough visited?
It is almost impossible to give concrete figures here, as many other factors such as board rental, kiosk sales and bathing entry contribute to the project’s financial viability. It will definitely take a few years before the installation refinances itself, that it will do it, there is no doubt about it, the number of visitors is very good, also the media response was tremendous.
Did Unit Park Tech, which had the design patented as far as possible, plan any other projects?
Yes, more waves are definitely to be built, the request shortly after opening was huge, but there is still silence about exact locations.
The shaft is adjustable in size. To what extent does it apply?
In the area of the beginner coaching we go down the wave to the lowest height, also the wave flattens out a bit, the wave has less pressure and so the surf beginners can get used to the wave very well. In the advanced sessions the wave is set a little steeper, the third stage is then really very powerful and exclusively intended for experienced surfers.
At 34 euros per hour, the whole thing is not cheap. Do you still have people who come regularly and have already developed something like a surfing scene in Langenfeld and the surrounding area. What is the surf level on the wave like?
Definitely a scene is developing, we have guys who surf here several times a week and meanwhile a threesome has become an established trick here. But we are always looking forward to a visit from the Munich Eisbach surfers, which always seems a bit like a Bundesliga player meeting up in the district league. But that is exactly what we are growing and I can see how the level here is constantly improving.
The third stop of the Rapid Surf League takes place in Langenfeld. What do you expect?
We see the event as an opportunity to introduce our wave to other river surfers, it should also be a platform for a get together of river surfers. If it goes as well as we expect, we would like to make it an ongoing project.
Manuel Kronfelder shows you everything you can do in Langenfeld in the video on the next page. Tomorrow you can read how the wave surfs in comparison with the Eisbach, what advantages and disadvantages are.