River Surfing In Southern Germany — Care To Catch A Wave?
Surfing in Germany is something that the uninformed associate with the North Sea or Baltic Sea. While there are some top coastal surf spots in Germany that have been surfed since the 1970’s, that’s not where the German surfing scene is hottest at this time of year.
To catch a wave in German, you really need to head south.
River surfing in Germany is a major sporting institution, and one that locals take very seriously. They have their own surfing leagues and there is a German surfing magazine (German only).
The epicenter of the action is in Munich, where a permanent wave generator has been set up on the Eisbach river. Here, locals and visitors alike prove their skills on a narrow channel of water, cheered on by passing spectators and surfer groupies. Experts surf at the wave generator near the Haus der Kunst museum in the Englischer Garten, while beginners ride the waves further up the tributary at Floßlände near the Thalkirchen campground.
There is no doubt that the wetsuit clad surfers look very cool in the midst of the city. They’re freezing, of course, because of the water temperature. No one was kidding around when they named the river — the English translation is Ice Stream and it averages about 6 °C or 42° F! As a result, all but the most dedicated wave riders limit their surf time to the summer months.
This makes right now the best season for getting an eyeful of the local tricksters and surf champions, and provides sightseers with the opportunity for a good, warm afternoon in the park as well.
To prepare yourself for the day out, you’ll need a picnic blanket, snacks, sunblock, and a crash course in German surf culture.
As far as German surf culture is concerned, start by listening to the best German surfer bands online — there’s Sportfreunde Stiller from nearby Germering, The Love Preachers from Düsseldorf, and Plan 9 from Berlin, just to name a few of the more famous bands to put you in the surfing mood.
From there, practice being polite and holding your board aloft as you wait in line for your shot at the river or start practicing your whoops and cheers for the local boys showing off.
If you can’t make it out to the Eisbach but wish you could, pick up the documentary on German river surfing that took 10 YEARS to make. Called Keep Surfing, it will let you see how the waves were made and showcase the lives of those who spend their days surfing South Germany.
P.S. Here’s a video of a surfer on the Eisbach river in action…
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