30th April 2017

WATCH: Local firm is on the crest of a wave with surf ride

It is the surfing experience to rival all others – but there are no sun-scorched Aussies, no soft white sands, and no VW camper vans.

But what did spring up at Lerwick’s Staneyhill Industrial Estate was a prototype of a full-size surf-ride machine.

The innovative project was put together by Shetland Composites on behalf of Glasgow-based organisation, Murphy’s Waves, which specialises in machines that, literally, make big splashes in the leisure industry.

Surfing machines have been seen before, but what makes this one, called Surf Air, stand out is its relatively small size. That should give it added appeal to certain sectors of the leisure industry where space is at a premium.

Managing Director of Shetland Composites, Fred Gibson, said he was delighted to be involved.

“What we’ve built here is a full-size surf ride. The reason we have to make a full-size is because we were testing nozzles out which basically fire the water up a slope – which you can then surf down.

“We’ve been working closely with a company called Murphy’s Waves for quite a few years now.

“This particular surf ride is a more compact, smaller surf ride than what we normally do.

“But as we’ve scaled everything down we still have to go through the process of actually testing the nozzles. We had it up and running over the last couple of days.”

Murphy’s Waves has gained experience over nearly 25 years in supplying similar devices. As well as the leisure sector it also supplies machines for offshore or military training, and the film industry.

The company’s Neil Walsh said Murphy’s Waves had built up a strong relationship with the Shetland company over the years.

“Fred is a fibreglass manufacturer who can fabricate quite bespoke things,” he said.
“He has been a good partner for us. We approached Fred initially with a view to doing a ‘slice’ of the ride – a much smaller model – and Fred, being a very hands on guy and innovative thinker, came up with the solution that we arrived at where we were able to prototype a full-size ride.

“Fred is a great guy to work with. He’s very hands on. He’s the kind of guy you can hand a sketch to and he’ll go away and make it a reality.”

Mr Walsh said a compact surf machine such as Surf Air would be handy for use in more confined places such as cruise ships.

• For more details, see this week’s Shetland Times, out today.

AboutRyan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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