Black Forest Wave: Pforzheim has a new standing river wave | Photo: blackforestwave

The surfers' hearts are beating faster in Pforzheim, Germany.

Munich's Eisbach River wave is probably the best-known standing wave in Germany, but you can now ride a wave in a town known for its watchmaking and jewelry industry.

After seven years of hard, voluntary work, the gateway city to the Black Forest - Schwarzwald, in German - now has its own river surfing wave.

The blackforestwave is a standing wave breaking in the heart of Pforzheim in southwestern Germany.

The artificial river surfing facility cost almost €80,000 ($94,000).

It was built in the Metzelgraben, a canal that crosses the city and flows into the Nagold River.

It is 4.5 meters (18 feet) wide and can be surfed during operation hours and when the river water levels are high enough.

Despite being a human-made wave, natural factors like the weather will impact its quality and consistency.

Metzelgraben Canal, Pforzheim, Germany: the Black Forest artificial rive wave is the result of seven years of hard, voluntary work | Photo: blackforestwave

Years In the Making

The search for a suitable location for this innovative surfable river wave started in 2016.

One year later, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) created a prototype that was tested during winter.

In the fall of 2018, blackforestwave received from the Office for Environmental Protection of the City of Pforzheim the water law permit for the construction of the river wave system and the official approval to use the Metzelgraben as the installation location.

The initial structure was positioned when the canal was dry.

However, in 2020, the project was redesigned. Originally, it was supposed to be a removable structure, but a new idea revamped the initial plan.

The new technical concept featured the possibility of lowering the wooden structure to enable a flexible reaction to different water levels in the canal.

As a result, the long-term solution required additional calculations - the flow conditions had to be simulated, and the kinematics and lifting devices had to be redesigned.

In October, after building and pre-assembling the whole mechanism, 30 volunteers used a crane to drop the structure into the canal with millimeter precision.

The process started in the morning and was only concluded late in the evening.

Black Forest River Wave: the German artificial surf spot is 4.5 meters wide | Photo: blackforestwave

Innovative Technology

The blackforestwave adapts to the river flow, meaning that the water level in the canal can be managed thanks to a built-in hydraulic system installed on the artificial surfing setup.

The steel frame structure features adjustable elements that enable the wave - generated solely by the flowing river - to be continuously adjusted to different water levels.

Around 3,000 screws hold the wooden planks of the ramp in position.

Ten hydraulic cylinders allow the alignment of five individual components and even enable fine adjustments to the wave while surfing.

The blackforestwave can be lowered and shut down to allow the water to flow through the canal as unhindered as possible.

The surface of the structure that creates the wave - similar to a ramp - is clad with wooden planks and screwed to the steel frame.

The whole inland surfing system can be fine-tuned with a specially developed app that adapts the wave to the current conditions and switches the surf on and off.

It is also possible to access the river wave from both the right and left sides of the canal.

Pforzheim, Germany: the new standing wave system cost €80,000 | Photo: blackforestwave

A Fun Inland Surfing Wave

Steffen Rose, the founder of the blackforestwave surf club, was the first surfer to ride the long-awaited wave.

Jonas Buchholz, member of the local surf club and designer of blackforestwave's unique wooden surfboards, kept true to the motto: "Where there is a will, there's also a wave."

After having tested Pforzheim's newest sports attraction, he admits that "the wave feels good, especially when you've worked on it for so long."

The project was backed up by two sponsors - Admedes and G.RAU - who were delighted with the idea and excited and proud about the outcome.

"We got in touch with the planned blackforestwave for the first time in the late summer of 2018," the companies said.

"Right from the start, we realized that the club's vision of using the Pforzheim rivers to promote Pforzheim and the region was excellent and attractive."

"After years of tense waiting, the technology is ready to be used. The entire team deserves our deepest respect for such an amazing project and for what they've accomplished in recent years."

Around 100 guests attended the inauguration of the blackforestwave.

blackforestwave: a surf club with 150 enthusiastic member | Photo: blackforestwave

Making River Surfing Accessible to Everyone

The surf club has always aimed to increase the integration of the local rivers and canals into the cityscape.

"We are also committed to the purification of the waters," emphasizes Jonas Buchholz, a board member of the blackforestwave.

"What is also unique is that the surf system is permeable to fish, and it is the only surf system of its kind that can be illuminated from the water for special events."

Surfing at the German artificial standing wave will be paused for a few weeks, though.

The canal will be drained due to maintenance and renovation works on a building further downstream of the surf zone.

But the local club will also take time to complete the very last optimization tasks on parts of the system that are often of difficult access.

From November 2021 onward, the blackforestwave will be open to all club members, with surf sessions held on a regular basis.

As of 2021, the organization has 150 members.

In spring 2022, the club will open the river wave to the general public and provide surf slots that can be booked online.

There will also be surf lessons for private groups and companies.

But the blackforestwave will stay true to its origins, and making the wave accessible to all those interested in surfing is the ultimate goal.

Surfing on artificial river waves is becoming increasingly popular, especially in landlocked countries.

In addition to Pforzheim, German surfers will be able to ride a newly-built artificial wave in the Pegnitz River in Nuremberg.

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