Bristol’s The Wave is expanding with more locations set to open across UK soon

Bristol inland surfing company, The Wave, is expanding, which means we could be seeing more surfing locations across the rest of the UK soon. The company has just signed an investment deal worth £27 million with Sullivan Street Partners to rollout across several sites in the UK and Ireland, with plans already set for a London site in Enfield.

The Wave in Bristol, which cost around £30 million, opened in November 2019 and was the first in the world to use Wavegarden Cove technology. Since then, despite the pandemic, more inland surfing sites in Australia, Korea, Switzerland and Brazil have opened using the same technology and our own Bristol centre has not only survived the most difficult trading conditions, with various lockdowns to contend with – but it has proved that there is a bigger appetite than ever for surfing and its many physical and particularly mental health benefits.

This new investment is set to support the expansion phase of the business, enabling the securing of sites and planning for the next three or four wave parks, including the already secured London site in Enfield and the agreement comes with a commitment to fund the construction phases of the future projects. Other potential locations across the UK – and even abroad – are already being considered.

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The surf park sector is reportedly set to boom worldwide, with an estimated 100 more to open globally in the next 10 years and outdoor leisure, experiential leisure and staycations are areas which are only rising in popularity. The Wave inland surfing destination in Bristol already has a campsite known as ‘The Camp at The Wave’, which can be found just metres from the surfing facilities at the site.

What’s more, popularity from what has been dubbed the ‘Olympic effect’ means that, since the sport of surfing made its debut during the Tokyo Olympics, more people will be inspired to try their hand at it – in a safe environment. The Wave currently offers surf lessons for beginners, intermediates, advanced, experts, women-only and even holds ‘Adaptive Surfing’, so people with disabilities can enjoy the sport, too.

Craig Stoddart, The Wave CEO, said: “Working with Sullivan Street will allow us to move forward with our strategy to develop up to five more Wave sites in the next five years, and further cement us as a leading developer in the surf park sector – a leisure category that is set to boom. This is a really exciting time for us as a business and we are delighted to be working with a team who bring additional expertise and insight at this critical point.”

A surfer rides a wave during a training session for staff at The Wave attraction in Bristol
A surfer rides a wave during a training session for staff at The Wave attraction in Bristol
(Image: PA)

Layton Tamberlin, Founding Partner of Sullivan Street, said: “We are excited to play an instrumental role in the next stage of The Wave’s development. What the team has achieved would have been incredible without the pandemic, but to be at the forefront of this new, consumer-driven, market sector at such a time is remarkable.

“We see excellent current performance at the Bristol site, which was maybe invisible to others due to Covid and the recency of the development, but the opportunity to develop beyond this is enormous – meaning an excellent investment for Sullivan Street and a wider reach of wellness and health benefits to people across the country.”

The Wave is founded on a clear purpose to share the positive wellbeing benefits of water and waves with people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. It has a triple bottom line approach to business, which assesses its impact on planet and people, as well as the financial implications of decisions and it was essential that any investment partner supports this approach.

Surfing sessions at The Wave
Surfing sessions at The Wave

Nick Hounsfield, Founder and CVO of The Wave, said: “Our purpose is central to everything. We want to share the positive power of waves, the physical and mental health benefits, and the pure joy of surfing with as many people as possible.

“We want to be a business for good – and we want to work with other like-minded businesses to amplify what we are doing. SSP is a partner whose commitment to sustainability and creating social change are aligned to ours, highlighted by their recent drive to achieve carbon neutrality for Octavius Infrastructure within 100 days of ownership.

“We are really excited to work alongside the team to develop more sites and create even more triple bottom line impact.”

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