Man-made waves & good times in the Lone Star State

Words and photos by Coalatree Ambassador Ryan Erickson. Catch him on Instagram or visit his website.

There’s been a precious new discovery deep in the heart of Texas, and I’m not talking about a new oil field. A man-made wave pool has been constructed on the prairie outside of Waco, and it just so happens to create perfect, on-demand, peeling waves. Surfers from all over the world have been flocking to rural Texas to surf this new wave. Sounds like a joke, right? Recently me and a group of buddies decided to go take a look for ourselves. Here’s what we found…

The new wave pool was created by BSR Surf Ranch, and sits on a massive plot of prairie land on the outskirts of Waco. It can pump out an estimated 130 waves per hour and there is a maximum of 9 surfers in the pool at any one time. That equates to about 14 waves per hour per surfer. During a 1-hour session, the wave will peel left for 30 minutes and then right for 30 minutes. Waves are created by bursts of air pumped out in a sequence from jets in the wall. The wave breaks for about 100 yards, allowing for multiple turns and barrel sections and each wave lasts for about 10-12 seconds.

There are many advantages to surfing in a wave pool versus the ocean. First of all, in the pool surfers just sit and wait their turn in a line and have their waves assigned to them rather than fighting each other for waves like surfers do in the ocean. Everyone gets the exact same number of waves so it’s more fair than your average surf lineup where locals or the best surfers often hog all the waves. At BSR there is an amazing rock concert atmosphere with loud music playing to amp you up, there is no seaweed, no polluted water or saltiness, no flat spells, no endless checking of surf conditions before deciding where to surf and perhaps the biggest perk of all, no sharks! All I can say is surfing this man-made wave is really fun; it certainly lives up to the hype.

There are 3 skill-level sessions you can choose from: beginner, intermediate or expert. The beginner wave is pretty much a longboard wave that pushes you straight on whitewater. It’s simple but a lot of fun. The intermediate wave is head-high and peels like a pointbreak. The expert wave has the same shape as the intermediate wave only it is faster, steeper and barrels a little more. The waves have plenty of power and it is capable of producing some real wipeouts that’ll hold you under for a few seconds or bounce you off the concrete bottom if you’re not careful. Our group booked 5 sessions on both the intermediate and expert waves and we had the time of our lives! It was so much fun renting the entire pool out for just our group of friends. I’ve honestly never laughed more. There was so much hootin’ and hollerin’ in the pool as you paddled back out and watched your buddy either pull into a perfect freshwater barrel or get pulverized by the lip of the wave right in front of you.

Who would have thought you could have a legitimate, fun surf trip in Waco, Texas? It was one of the best surf trips I’ve ever been on, actually. You can catch as many waves in 5 surf sessions at BSR as you would during 2 weeks on a normal surf trip. Yes, you’ll have to pay between $75-$90 per session to surf, whereas the ocean is free but when you factor in the relatively low cost of flying into Texas and the cheap accommodations there versus what a surf trip to Hawaii, Costa Rica or Tahiti will cost you, then BSR starts to look pretty good. You can get your fill of surfing in a 3-day weekend instead of having to take 2 full weeks off of work in order to travel to some of those distant surf destinations. There will never fully be a replacement for nature and nothing will ever top surfing perfect waves in the ocean but BSR Surf Resort comes pretty darn close…