Surfing the Eisbach

Bridge over the River Eisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.

Bridge over the River Eisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.

I decided to stay over in Munich for the weekend after a short business trip. It was summer, the weather was warm and pleasant, and tourists (like me) were abound.

I was underway to the English Garden when I saw the spectators. I wondered what they were observing. Anglers? Wildlife? The noise became louder as I came closer to the bridge. A sound of gushing water to my right mixed in with traffic noise coming from the street to my immediate left. 

As I reached the bridge, I heard shouting coming from the river below. It was shouting full of excitement, but the river was now too loud for me to understand what the shouting was about. I peered over the bridge. Then I saw them. Neoprene-clad young people surfing on the whitewater immediately below the bridge.

Surfing on the River Eisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.

Surfing on the River Eisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.

Surfing on the River IEisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.

Surfing on the River IEisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.

A group of five or six young surfers were riding the wave on this artificial river named the Eisbach. The river is about two kilometres long, and runs along the southern edge of the English Garden, a large public park in Munich. The surfers took it in turns to ride the wave, some more successfully than others. Later, I learned that the wave is a "standing wave", a wave that remains in one place. If surfers can keep their balance on the wave, they will remain in one position on the river. Should they fall into the water, it is only a few steps back to the wave.

For one of the surfers the ride was over. While on the wave, he signalled to his buddies that he would return home. He let himself fall from the wave, grabbed his surfboard, and set off downstream. I looked beyond him along the Eisbach. The river was mainly in shade, however, I could see a patch of sunlight beyond the next footbridge a short distance away. I ran along the riverside path, overtaking the surfer. Standing on the footbridge, I focused on the patch of sunlight. Just as he drifted into the sunlight, he turned slightly, raising the tip of his surfboard. I made the photograph.

Surfer in the River Eisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.

Surfer in the River Eisbach near the English Garden, Munich, Germany.