Surf’s Up! Salida Gets New, Rippin’ Scout Wave (Plus Shredalicious Vid Footie)


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Yup…The surf’s up in November in Colorado now, thanks to the new Scout Wave 2.0 on the Arkansas River in Salida.

Located downstream of the bridge downtown, the new Scout Wave 2.0 in the Salida Whitewater Park was a community project made possible by the City of Salida, private local donors, local concrete gurus Jake and Terry Hadley, and Larry Sherwood of Lowry Contracting, says lead designer Spencer Lacy of whitewater park company Recreation Engineering & Planning, which built the rest of the whitewater park, as well as the one upstream in Buena Vista.

“So far it’s better than we could have dreamed at these low flows,” says Lacy, adding a lot of effort went into the plan. “Optimal performance for this wave is targeted for flows under 1,000 cfs. We haven’t seen the wave at the river’s higher flows during the spring runoff, but we’re excited about the low water performance so far. We’ve surfed it between 300-400cfs in October and have had a lot of fun. It’s great to see the fresh river surfing scene flourish in this beloved mountain town.”

salida wave
The new Scout Wave 2.0 in Salida, CO

Paddling Life caught up with project manager Mike Harvey of Recreation Engineering & Planning for even more beta on this newest addition to Colorado’s river surfing scene.

PL: How great is it and how great of an addition is it to the Salida scene?

It’s a total game changer. The surf scene here in Salida was limited to flows over 900 cfs so basically only during the summer months. Also, our main wave before (the Office Wave) was more of a traditional, foamy, hydraulic jump. It’s really fun, but a total different experience than the new Scout Wave, which is designed to work at flows below 1,000 cfs. The Ark has water basically year-round, with basement flows of 250 cfs which are often above 400 cfs through the offseason. We knew that if we could design a wave that would work at those lower flows, we could completely redefine the season around here.

I just surfed on my lunch break yesterday at 380 cfs on November 8, which was unthinkable before we finished this feature. The wave itself is world class. It’s more of a “sheet flow” style of modern river wave—fast and completely green at these flows. You can get on from the concrete platforms adjacent to the wave so you’re stepping onto your board from a standing position…no pop up required. The wave is very square and uniform and 35-feet wide so you can rip back and forth and it doesn’t matter if you are goofy or regular you can take off from either side and make blasting frontside and backside turns. My son Miles is doing airs and spins at these flows…it truly is world class. You’re riding low-volume shortboards, which is harder in traditional river waves where you need more volume in order to plane out. Can you tell I’m just a bit stoked?

PL: Does it utilize all the latest and greatest wave-building tech?

Spencer Lacy, myself and the whole team at REP set out to answer the question if we could build a high-performance river wave for a city like Salida that doesn’t have millions of dollars to spend on one feature. Many of the modern river waves have moving parts which mean increased capital construction costs and long-term maintenance costs. We looked very closely at a variety of river waves around the world and Spencer went and visited sites in Europe. We tried something totally new for us and new in terms of what’s been done anywhere else. While we are stoked with the early returns we are keenly aware of the fact that we need to continue to monitor it over the next year as flows go up and back down again.

salida wavePL: How hard was it to build—any particular issues you had to overcome?

It was the most challenging feature I’ve been involved with in 22 years of designing and building whitewater parks. The geometry was complicated and the tolerances tight. We needed more space to work in order to do it correctly, which meant we had to move the Arkansas out of the way during construction. This de-watering effort was challenging. We have been working with one contractor here on the Ark for 20 years, so we were fortunate to have the A Team out there doing this project because it took a lot of creativity and problem solving from the whole team.

Watch Vid of Surfing the Wave Here:


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