Bigger than Melbourne’s Urbnsurf, less crowds etc.

Switzerland came twenty-third out of fifty-four teams in the ISA World Games in 2019. Great Britain was 20th, Philippines 21st, the Netherlands were 22nd.

Just below Switzerland were Ecuador, Barbados, Ireland, Fiji and Morocco.

Not a bad result then, for a nation without a coastline.

However, in the time of wave tanks, they have decided to build their own piece of coast.

Sion, in Valais, is a sunny little town nestled in the foot of the Alps. It is well-known as the area in Switzerland that receives the most sunlight annually. It is at the foot of famous ski resorts like Zermatt and Chamonix and does have quite wonderful views.

In Sion, Alaïa Bay is soon to turn on engines and make some waves for visitors and locals.  

Alaïa Bay founder, Adam Bonvin, is a twenty-five-year-old surfer, who had the idea of building a wave pool in Switzerland when he was 18-years-old and traveling.

“I have always loved snowboarding, but when I discovered surfing I was hooked,” said Bonvin on his motivation behind building the Alaïa Bay facility. “The idea for the Alaïa Bay pool actually came to me after a surf trip to Hossegor in France.”

There has been much planning, as well as dealing with all the COVID details and protocols, but all is set for the grand opening in April.

The Alaïa Bay management opened up tickets for pre-0pening sessions, and they were offered in various packages and at different prices. Those pre-op tickets valid for the pre-opening period were immediately sold out.

There are two main payment structures: pay per session or join the Alpine Surf Club, pay a premium, and receive extra sessions and reduced rates. The Alpine Surf Club offers several membership options, much like the Gold memberships at Melbourne.

A big diff with Melbourne’s UrbnSurf is the number of surfers in the water. An expert session in Switzerland will consist of eight surfers on the left and right on the right, with a wave count of about twelve waves in the session.

The advanced sessions will consist of eleven surfers per side, and about thirteen waves per session.

In Melbourne, the numbers are eighteen and twelve.

Your wave count will be above ten rides for a fifty-five-minute session. That’s a wave every five minutes.

In today’s crowds, some people would be ecstatic with that wave count.

The Wavegarden Cove set up is modular, and the number of modules, which is the number of motors, effects the length and quality of ride.

The waves at Alaïa Bay, set up with forty-six motors, are going to be that much better than the Melbourne Urbnsurf facility, with a slightly smaller pool size translating into slightly bigger, and more powerful waves.

How cold is the joint going to get?  Everyone asks about the water temperatures.

For a location like Sion to have good snowboarding and ski locations twenty minutes away, the temperatures will drop through the middle of winter.

Still, good rubber and warm facilities will see any stoked surfer through the coldest patch. We all know that wetsuit quality and tech are excellent. Surfers are getting barrelled in Iceland, Norway, Kamchatka and Scotland.

In the height of summer, there are about sixteen hours of sunlight in Sion, the air temps get into the high thirties (nineties Fahrenheit)  with all sorts of heat-wave warnings and advice, like ‘stay indoors’ and ‘stay hydrated’ etc.

Surfers however, will use any sort of heatwave excuse to disrobe and surf in boardshorts and bikinis.

So there is that.

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By Charlotte Campbell (Surfer's Paradise)

Charlotte Campbell (Surfer's Paradise)