Back in 1980 … these guys invented surfing on the Eisbach
Being waterski addicts the sight of those rapids underneath the Prinzregentenstraße did not
fade away – until they decided to take the risk …
Until then “surfing” on the Eisbach had looked like that
Why Pioneers ? Didn’t it start many years before ?
Well – during study from summer 1978 on, we were spending every so often the afternoon in the Englischer Garten
(to be true – it was rather more often – when the weather was fine).
So: from summer 1978 to summer 1982 – a period of 5 years – we have definitively seen nobody else (apart from us),
who would have been on the wave – be it surfing, water skiing or tow boarding. If there had been someone – he had
been hiding pretty well. Especially, taking into account, that we were surfing on a regular basis from 1980 on.
It is not by chance, that in all the films, in more than 20 scenes with Eisbach wave, on several different days
in different years, not a single of the “other” surfers can be detected anywhere (e.g. also here) !
Whereas – what could be seen every day, were board surfers using an elastic rope, far below the wave.
But – that’s not wave surfing – and especially, it is not surfing on the Eisbach-Welle !
The circumstances then were not the same as can be found today:
Starting from the left bank was nearly impossible, because there was no stable wave on this side –
only a back streaming white water. Accessing the right bank was hindered by bushes and nettles –
you had to pass first.
The wave itself was not as even and as stable as today. If you were unlucky, there was not a single spot of
stable wave from left to right – only back streaming foam – for weeks !
We had such frustrating (and lasting) encounters – on several occasions.
But there were surfers at the Floßlände. They could have simply tried on the Eisbach as well !
Apart from the above mentioned inconveniences, it wasn’t that simple – due to other reasons:
The surf boards in 1980 were still rather long and straight – not just perfectly suited for a short and rather curved wave.
And – risking scratches and severe damages – throwing your chic and precious surf board into the white waters
at the Eisbach-Welle – is not everybody’s business.
As you can see in the film, there is a lot of white water – with whirls and swirls. Think about the thundering roar.
This can be rather intimidating – especially for the first time.
There is a big difference – if you can watch others – having no trouble with the rapids – or – if you are standing at
the verge, alone and all on your own – looking down onto the thundering wave.
Nobody shows you, that it is possible. Nobody tells you – that it is harmless.
Quite the contrary ! Stories of drowned kids, of dangerous undertows are flashing your mind.
You are watching the rapids and the withe water – and you imagine rocks underneath the surface.
What, if you hit such a rock – with your head ? What, if you are pressed under water and cannot
The way onto the Welle
Of course, we didn’t jump onto the Eisbach-Welle on our first time in the Englischer Garten.
There was more than one thing to see and to do:
Swimming down the Eisbach, through the rapids – hanging under bridges – standing in the falls – playing frisbee –
and all around – pretty girls – and at that time nearly all the pretty ones – topless on the meadows.
Later on into the Biergarten – often we were going “zum Chinesen” – chatting, flirting.
But – we were also watching the tow-board surfers – and being enthusiastic water skiers, we were thinking
about trying water ski.
The next summer, I took a “Teller” (= round wooden plate for water skiing) and a water ski rope from Regensburg
and did my first trials on the Eisbach – in the same place, where the tow-board surfers did.
It was not too bad – but a bit lame on the long run
So, we looked how fast the Eisbach was streaming further upriver – and not very much longer –
we were standing at the Welle.
Naturally we felt rather queasy on our first time – but, no risk no fun, we finally did it – fixed the rope to the grid
on the bridge – and did skiing with the “Teller”.
This worked quite well – just like behind a boat or at a cable skiing – and falling into the water was in fact
much more harmless than we had suspected.
When we tried out different lengths for the rope, we noticed that it was possible to surf on the wave, without
rope at all, if you were in the right spot. However we started rotating doing so – there is no fin at the “Teller”,
you need the pull of the rope to steer it.
Next step: We need a real surf board – but how to get.
Apart from the difficulty to get a adequate surf board in Germany, those custom boards were somewhat
above the price region of students. So – do it yourself !
Simplest method: Get water resistant ply wood – cut and shape the form – add an old mono-ski fin – finished !
In the next summer – in 1980 – was the big day – and we made our first trials to surf the Welle !
Appearences in the film:
Michael as first skier and surfer , then Reinhard and Stefan – or the other way round – and myself as last surfer.
In the beginning we did need the water ski rope for the start – later on we attached a strap for the front foot
to our board. So one could do jump starts directly onto the wave – and pull the nose of the board upward.
Due to the missing scoop, the board could easily under-cut the water (as can be seen in the film several times)
So that’s how surfing did start on the Eisbach-Welle !
or over http://www.infiniteyoutube.com/?v=QufgBjP2qvo&p=n and over again