Surfing in landlocked Munich


Surfers line up on both sides of the Eisbach stream to take turns catching a stationary wave that sometimes is 6 feet high.


It was a rainy day in Munich as our guide stopped the van at the south end of Englischer Park near the modern art museum. It was an early May day in the 50s so it was a surprise to see barefoot young people milling around.

Many of them were carrying surfboards, wearing wetsuits and were there to challenge a wave in the middle of a stream near a bridge. It’s a standing wave that reaches 6 feet high at times and it’s in the Eisbach stream, a chilly tributary of the city’s Isar River.

People have been surfing here since the 1970s even though Munich is landlocked and it’s a six-hour drive to the North Sea, where the waves are hardly worth surfing anyway. Concrete baffles placed in the stream to lessen its flow are the reason for the big wave and are also why surfing was illegal here until 2010. But surfers were coming out in the middle of the night to do it anyway, so the city apparently gave up and allowed it.



It’s a surprise to see barefoot surfers with their boards in landlocked Munich.

Now the surfing venue draws people around the clock, even on rainy days like when I was there. Most of them appear to be in their 20s and younger, not much from the age demographic among surfers on Oahu’s North Shore. But women are among the athletes and everybody is supportive.  River surfing was born here.

Now the Munich Airport expects to draw surfing’s international elite to the Aug. 14-16 European championship in stationary wave riding. The wave in the airport center’s Forum between its terminals will roll daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning July 31 through Aug. 23. Days begin with Kids Camps where young surfers can learn from the pros with the wave open to all for free each afternoon. Necessary equipment will be provided without cost. Details:

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