Just talking with Eisbach local Tao Schirrmacher we learned heaps about the world's most famous river wave
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 October, 2016 - Over 20 tons of ice cold water jet through the Himmelreich Bridge in Munich, Germany, every second with temperatures in April reaching a chilling 4ºC. Munich has been the home of river surfing for decades, with the Eisbach river, attracting around 100 surfers everyday.
This perpetual wave isn't a natural phenomenon, it’s actually made using concrete. It doesn’t behave like a normal wave either, so even seasoned ocean surfers can’t just hop on and expect it to go easily. Instead of driving you forward, the water slows down as the wave forms over the concrete. This affects how river surfers approach their turns and tricks. One of the best surfers on the Eisbach is Munich local Tao Schirrmacher
What causes the standing wave to break where it does?
In the case of the Eisbach (Munich), the wave is created by water flowing over almost 40 rocks underneath the surface. This was originally constructed to slow down the water before it enters the English garden, a park in Munich.
When it was first surfed and when was your first session at the Eisbach River wave?
The Eisbach was first surfed back in the ‘80s and my first session hitting the wave was in 2000, over 15 years ago.
It seems like a really tough learning curve, to go from not surfing to acid dropping into the world’s most famous river wave. How steep is the learning curve?
If you can surf already you will pick it up fast, but it is much harder than it looks at first sight.
What type of board (wakesurf? twin?) and fin setup works well on the wave?
Just a normal short board works well, it’s wide enough and has no strong tail kicks, your normal side fins and a little middle back fin will do it.
Tell us about the water temperature and some of the dangers that make this river wave different from surfing ocean waves.
The water in the Eisbach is generally so cold, in winter it’s almost freezing! The main danger is not the reef, it’s the concrete blocks and if you get stuck underwater the current doesn’t stop. In the ocean a super heavy wipe-out will hold you down for maybe 10-20 seconds however a river wipe-out will hold you under forever.
What was the scariest thing you saw at the wave and what was your worst wipeout?
I’ve seen some bad injuries in my time but nothing life threatening, I’ve been stuck underwater a few times and got caught in trees when the water is at higher levels.
Share with us something that most people don’t know about the Eisbach river wave.
All the infrastructure, from the wood you stand on, to the softened rocks and the first holes in the bridge, were all created by Mr. Walter (“Janitor of the Eisbach”) over 25 years ago.
Are there other river waves around Munich?
Oh we have a lot of river waves around - the well-known waves sit in the Flosssländle and the E2. Some other waves are secret.
Do you have one session that you will remember for the rest of your life?
There are some, but would be nasty to name just one!
Thank you for your time. Would you like to add anything?
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