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Photography News

Surfing the River

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City Centre Surfer.
Stephen Riley, Photographer, Somerset
Not a sight you see every day – a surfer riding the waves in the middle of a major inland European city.

This is Munich, and the body of water is the Stadtsagmulbach, which means roughly the ‘city’s little mill stream’. It gets squeezed through a culvert as it runs under Prinzregentenstrasse, so when it emerges in the Englische Garden (yep, there’s an English Garden in Munich!), it does so with great force and produces waves that locals can surf on.

The area available for use by surfers is quite small – there are just a few metres of surf-able water between the bridge, from which it emerges, and where it widens and slows to flow serenely through the gorgeous gardens. The area is called the Eisbachwelle – the ‘ice stream wave’ – suggesting it gets a bit chilly there. No-one surfs without a wet-suit.

Unlike normal surfing, where one travels along the wave toward the shore, the endeavour here is to stay in one place – or drift a little from one side to the other – without losing balance. It looks far from easy; it looks pretty dangerous too: no-one lasts on the foam for more than a few moments, before being flipped over or swept out along the stream, and there are threatening-looking, large, solid shapes just beneath the surface, presumably to control the flow of water.

One suspects it’s not a place for beginners and that the crash helmet worn by the surfer in this photograph is by no means overcaution.

Stephen Riley: Creative Commercial, Architectural and Travel Photography – Bruton, Somerset