Surfen im Münchner Eisbach

Bavaria’s Surfing Tradition

The Eisbach Surfers

Bavaria’s Surfing Tradition

The Eisbach Surfers

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O’ahu in Hawaii, Sagres on the Algarve coast, and Munich the capital of Bavaria – what do these places have in common? They are world-famous surf spots. Munich does not have an ocean, it is true, but it does have rivers, and it was here that river surfing was invented in 1972. So the sport, in which you surf standing waves on a river, is admittedly a very recent one, but it is still a truly Bavarian tradition.

Munich has its very own world-famous surfing tradition.

The world’s most famous spot for river surfing is in Munich’s Eisbach [“ice brook”]. All year round the side-arm of the Isar attracts large numbers of surfers, including professionals, from all over the world. In summer the standing wave becomes a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike – and the location plays its part, too: the surf spot is close to the stately Haus der Kunst museum. You can watch the surfers from the Eisbach bridge, which is crossed by Prinzregentenstraße; or shaded by the trees of Munich’s largest municipal park, the English Garden. After watching the sport you can carry on walking in the huge park with its cosy beer gardens.

Wellenreiten im Eisbach

Although the Eisbach wave is the most famous river surf spot, the sport was invented somewhere else. It originates, of course, from Polynesian surfing – and Bavarian towable plank riding. For many a year – nobody knows how many – the Bavarians would tie a wooden plank, even a door sometimes, to a tree jutting into a river and swim with it on the current. They did so crouched on the plank and holding on to handles. In 1965, Arthur Pauli from Altenmarkt in Chiemgau hit on the idea of holding the rope in his hands and standing on the Alz river to surf. But that was not yet river surfing. It was not until 1972 that Pauli succeeded in riding a surf wave without a rope in the Floßkanal [“rafting channel”] on the Floßlände in Munich – that was the start of river surfing.

No surfers without rafters

The invention of the sport would not have been possible without the Bavarian tradition of rafting. It was first in the Floßkanal, with its steep rafting weir and the abrupt confluence with the wider and calmer landing site for rafts (hence the name “Floßlände”, or “raft lands”, in English) that the perfect wave was created. Visitors today can still ride with a raft over the surfing wave in summer. The surfers have to make way for them.

Wellenreiten im Eisbach
Wellenreiten im Eisbach

There are several surf spots in Munich. Besides the Floßlände and the famous Eisbach wave there is also Wave 2 in the Eisbach. You can also surf at some spots along the Isar under certain circumstances. In theory anyone can join in, but only the Floßlände wave is suitable for river surfing novices. Even surfers with considerable experience of ocean surfing ought to try out river surfing here first. The famous Eisbach wave in particular is considered dangerous and pushes even professionals to their limits. The sportsmen govern access themselves. If you want to join in you should definitely approach an experienced river surfer beforehand.

Eisbachsurfer
Eisbachsurfer
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address: Prinzregentenstraße 1, 80538 München