A surfing paradise in the heart of Kreis 5: between clubs and boutiques, Patrick Eichler runs the platform Urbansurf. Its centrepiece? The Citywave, an enormous artificial wave. Professionals and beginners alike surf on it. ‘Surfing on our wave is actually pretty easy,’ says Patrick.
In Frau Gerolds Garten, people order sausages and beer; at Im Viadukt, they browse the shops. The night life slumbers. Even so, I turn off into a side street by the Supermarket club. Walking to the end, I find myself standing in front of an enormous block made of wood. I can hear laughter and splashing water.
The water swells up into a wave, with several surfers riding it.
I climb the steps and see a large pool. The water swells up into a wave, with several surfers riding it. In the background, trains rattle by; buses and trams go over Hardbrücke.
Patrick Eichler brought the artificial wave – the Citywave – to Hardbrücke.
Spectators have gathered on the seats around the pool, drinking, eating snacks and cheering on the surfers. Among them sits Patrick Eichler. He is the managing director of Urbansurf and the person who brought the artificial wave – the Citywave – to Hardbrücke.
The first time he stood on a surfboard, Patrick was still a little boy. As a young man, he then travelled to places like Bali and La Palma in search of the perfect wave. ‘But I’m not actually your typical surfer,’ he says; after all, he also enjoys other kinds of water sports. Nevertheless, he finds surfing completely engrossing. ‘Also because of the community: surfers stick together.’ This is why, a few years ago, Patrick got together with a bunch of like-minded people and started an interest group. Its aim? To establish a permanent indoor surfing facility.
Patrick Eichler travelled to places like Bali and La Palma in search of the perfect wave.
The group almost managed it – they’d already found a site, but then things came to a halt due to a lack of money and time. ‘We eventually came up with the idea of taking the artificial wave on tour around Switzerland,’ says Patrick. Two investors – one of them his father – founded The Wave Factory, brought the equipment to Switzerland, and put Patrick in charge as manager. In 2015 and 2016, the Citywave was set up and dismantled in various cities. ‘But in the end, it just became too much effort.’ Patrick started looking for a permanent site.
In 2015 and 2016, the Citywave was set up and dismantled in various cities.
In the summer of 2017, the Citywave stood on the plot between Bogen F and Frau Gerolds Garten for four months. That has been its permanent location ever since. The Urbansurf platform and with it the Citywave have permission to stay here until 2020. ‘Not even the owner of the plot knows what’s happening after that,’ Patrick explains.
Patrick sees surfing as a major trend, even if only a few people actually get up on a board: ‘A lot of people identify with the lifestyle.’ According to Patrick, this chimes with the current moment – it is urban, fresh and sporty. ‘At the same time, surfing has got that wild and rebellious edge to it, just like the natural world and the ocean,’ says Patrick. ‘It’s definitely a cool thing to do.’ The range on offer in the bar and restaurant is also designed to appeal to the urban-sporty crowd: the menu includes poke bowls and sweet potato fritters, for example.
‘Surfing has got that wild and rebellious edge to it, just like the natural world and the ocean.’
Patrick says the standard of Swiss surfers has risen as a result of the Citywave, as there’s nowhere else in the country where you can surf constantly. ‘Some people tell us that they prefer coming here over going on expensive surfing holidays,’ says Patrick.
Anyone who wants to surf on the Citywave can book a session in advance, whether they’re a beginner or an expert. In each session, two places are reserved for spontaneous surfers. Surfboards and wetsuits are provided. ‘The only thing you need to bring is a towel and your trunks or bikini,’ he adds. The wave can also be reserved by groups. ‘That’s pretty popular.’
The Citywave was developed in Munich. It is based on the Eisbach, which attracts professional surfers from around the world. ‘With the Citywave, the water comes from in front of you,’ explains Patrick. ‘That confuses people at first, because in the sea the wave pushes the surfer from behind.’ Most surfers get the hang of it, though, after three goes at most. Besides, failing is all part of the fun here, he says. ‘When people fall in the water, they’re laughing as they get out of the pool. That’s exactly what we’re aiming for: we want people to have fun!’
Monday closed Tuesday, 3 pm to 11 pm Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30 am to 11 pm Friday, 11:30 am to midnight Saturday, 8:30 am to midnight Sunday, 8:30 am to 10 pm
For each session, eight places are sold online and two places are sold on site. A session lasts 45 minutes. It is also possible to book early bird sessions and kids’ sessions for children up to 16 years online. Private sessions are available for groups.
Entrance to the viewing platform is free for spectators. There is a range of snacks on offer. There is also a regular programme of events such as concerts and surfing contests.