Wave park will give Scottish surfers an international edge

Image of proposed surf park
The facility will be build in the former Craigpark Quarry pit near Ratho and will produce a thousand artiifical waves an hour into a lake for people to surf

Scotland's top surfer Mark Boyd says the creation of an artificial surf centre will give the country's elite a "huge edge" at future Olympics.

Approval has been given for a facility outside Edinburgh, which the national champion hopes will boost Scots' chances on the world stage.

"To have this as a base will do wonders for the sport."

"It'll give surfers the opportunity to practice skills in a similar way to climbers at an indoor climbing centre."

The 31-year-old added: "It'll be a fantastic opportunity to get repetition, practice manoeuvres and really improve surfing at a quicker pace."

Surfing is one of five new sports to be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games along with skateboarding, climbing, karate and baseball/softball.

While it may be too late to have an impact in two years' time, Boyd believes Wavegarden Scotland near Ratho will boost Scotland's chances in the future.

"Looking down the line we've already seen the world surfing league use artificial wave and they've got it on their calendar for the world tour this year.

"And while it's not going to happen in 2020, if surfing remains in the Olympics 2024 and 2028 a wave garden could be a possibility in some of these events.

"If that's the case Scotland are going to have a huge advantage being one of the first places in the world to have this technology."

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The Scottish surf team try out the new wave generation technology (footage courtesy of Wavegarden Scotland)

More commonly associated with the tropical coasts of Australia, the United States and Brazil, Scotland is one of Europe's top surfing destinations.

The waters of the Atlantics and the North Sea offer year-round opportunities at spots like Thurso, along the Moray shores, off the west coast of Lewis, Tiree, Kintyre or Dunbar in the south east.

But it is also one of the coldest places to catch a wave and Boyd, who surfs the Caithness inlets, believes the new site will help elite athletes maintain and better their form.

"It's really important to have that consistency and keep improving," said the Scottish surfing team captain.

"The weather in Scotland definitely makes that a challenge compared to a lot of other countries.

"More reliable weather with less big storms, bad winds, without the tide and the cold to worry about would provide a consistent platform to push your surfing."

The new technology will be able to generate a thousand waves an hour into a huge lake in what was the Craigpark Quarry pit.

"As a training facility this is going to provide a huge opportunity and advantage for Scottish surfers to use it to improve as much as they can," added Boyd.

He explains it will also be "a tool to analyse their surfing."

Mark Boyd surfing
Thurso's Mark Boyd won the Scottish Surfing Championships in April 2018 and competes around the world in international tournaments

The Scottish squad currently compete at the International Surfing Association World Championships, European Championship events and various others including the Nordic Surfing Games.

Together Team Scotland placed 16th in the world at the ISA World Surfing Games in Peru in 2014.

The international governing body has stated that it hopes the sport's addition to the Olympic schedule will not only bring something different to the games, but help reach new fans.

Boyd feels putting it in the spotlight like this presents the ideal opportunity to capture a whole new generation, who can be developed and nurtured back home.

"Scotland's surf scene is growing and we have some exciting home grown talent breaking onto the scene," he said.

"For entry level, the same waves every time allows people to improve at a rapid rate and get hooked on it.

"{The surf park} is definitely going to increase the numbers and push the overall standard of the sport in Scotland in the long run."

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