Vlny Stvanice: the Czech river surfing association is making waves in the heart of Prague | Photo: Vlny Stvanice

Munich has been the unofficial capital of river surfing for 50 years for its famous Eisvach wave and incredible riding spots.

However, Prague's Štvanice Island was the home of the International River Surfing Network Summit for three days, from October 20-22.

The Czech initiative welcomed representatives and designers from a total of 11 river surfing projects across Europe.

The busy itinerary included not only a theoretical part full of a wide range of topics, from types of wave construction through the possibilities of financing these projects to river surfing as a professional sport but also a practical part involving the actual riding on Vltava River's artificial wave.

Surfing on river waves is booming in many European countries and is rapidly growing in popularity.

The sport of river surfing serves as a popular alternative to ocean surfing or wakeboarding.

Following this rapid growth, an informal alliance of European river surfing operators was formed this year.

"This event served primarily to share experiences, establish mutual cooperation, and compile a 'cookbook' for creating a new river wave," commented Martin Leskovjan, founder of the Vlny Štvanice project and organizer of the event.

Prague: the Czech Republic capital has a river surfing wave since April 1, 2023 | Photo: Vlny Štvanic

The Power of River Surfing

The principle of surfing is that a large amount of water hits a natural obstacle (reef, sand, rock), which creates waves for subsequent surfing.

In the ocean, the water current creates storms far from land - the so-called swell.

However, on a river, a wave is created by directing a sufficient current of water through the riverbed.

The wave is shaped by a specifically designed artificial structure and the surrounding conditions (flow, level, etc.).

The rider itself does not move forward on the river as it does in the ocean. Instead, the water moves under the rider. It is a static wave.

The rider can then move from side to side on this wave - the one in Štvanice is almost eight meters wide - and perform tricks.

What Is Vlny Štvanice?

The Vlny Štvanice is a group consisting of water sports enthusiasts of various disciplines who have built a unique project in Prague's Štvanice.

The organization created the first-ever river surfing wave in the Czech Republic capital, right on the river sports ground in the city center.

Now, it is possible to ride not only a kayak but also a surfboard.

The river surfing wave opened on April 1, 2023.

It is a wild water course near Štvanice Island, run by the aforementioned non-profit organization and a group of volunteers.

Surfing fans have the opportunity to train on the wild water in the middle of the capital and with a view of Prague Castle.

Besides riding the river wave, there is also a wild water channel for kayakers and paddleboards, as the wave connects to the Štvanice channel.

With this project, Vlny Štvanice managed to save the former army training track from destruction, and they have plans to develop the area even further in the future.

International River Surfing Network Summit 2023: an initiative that discussed the future of river surfing | Photo: Vlny Štvanic

The 2023 International River Surfing Network Summit

The event offered a rich program that included expert presentations by professional wave makers such as professor Robert Meier-Staude from the University of Munich, as well as debates on river wave development, financial sustainability, membership and community, and river surfing as a professional and competitive sport.

There were also discussions on the proposal, design, and selection of a suitable location for a new river wave.

The topic of relationships with the watershed and the city, or a conversation about standards, accountability, and potential challenges, also got its due.

The topic of safety, the financing of new waves, and the final discussion on the future of the newly formed international river surfing group in Europe were not forgotten.

The theory was regularly complemented with wave riding, during which the participants could test the quality of the local wave.

There was also an informal part - a group dinner or a Saturday after-party, during which the participants had the opportunity to meet the local community.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the large attendance of colleagues from all over Europe, and in addition, I am glad that I was able to try riding the Prague wave, which I consider one of the best in Europe, "says Janne Paul Schmidt, co-organizer and founder of Germany's Lahnwelle project.

Words by Zuzana Somošová | Communications Officer at Vlny Štvanice

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