Photo: Vaughn Roberts video, Penrhyn Mawr Tidal Race (Wales) - Click to enlargevideo link
See descriptions of tidal race (or "tide rip")
For many years most surfskiers have left human powered boating for recreation in these tidal phenomena to other vessels such as sea kayaks. But in the right circumstances surfskis and OCs can thrive there too and do some kinds of wave surfing better than any other craft. Many of the races listed below will rarely if ever provide worthwhile or safe conditions for surfskis. But some probably offer excellent opportunities when conditions are right and a paddler's skills and local knowledge are up to it. Someone just needs to study more of the tidal races that are reasonably accessible and learn how they work. The surfski and OC communities in the Pacific Northwest have spent time studying and practicing in their nearby tidal races at Deception Pass and Ambleside and find them exceptionally fun and great for conditioning and skill development when conditions are right (though not for the faint of heart or skill when they run big).
Tidal races offer unusual variations of downwinding and surfing with their own technical, challenging and sometimes ill-advised for paddling conditions. Some tidal currents create standing or slow moving waves that are surfable while other locales offer wind swell going against the tidal current with waves stacking up and moving up-current making for downwind like paddling that can be similar to the Columbia Rive Gorge though often with stronger counter current. Catching such tide race waves, particularly fast moving ones against the tide can require a lot of power and acceleration. Skilled sea kayakers often like to play on the waves and in the roil of eddy lines and whirlpools that are common around tide rips, while surfskiers generally are looking for sections where they can use their speed to catch, maneuver on and link waves in a downwind surfing manner. Tide races need to be thoroughly investigated in terms of variability and degree of hazard and either prepared for or avoided as conditions and skills dictate.
The tide races currently known to us in Australia seem fairly remote.
OC Surfing Ambleside
Baynes Channel Victoria BC
Penwryn Mawr Tidal Race in Wales
Jupiter Inlet Tidal Race Surfing
Big Day at Deception Pass Tide Race (Washington State)
Beyond discovering every kind of wave already existing in nature that can possibly be paddled on, what else is happening to grow wave riding opportunity? Surf parks that mechanically generate their own waves are rapidly becoming very popular. But surf ranches, parks, etc. are not really the domain of surfskis. Virtually all current (2021) surfski wave riding, whether in downwinding or on waves (standing and moving) in tidal races is done on waves formed by nature. The environmental cost in producing natural waves is zero in terms of human energy expense/carbon footprint. That “zero” does not take into account the energy expense of transportation to get to such waves or the expense of equipment manufactured for such pursuits but such costs are there to some extent for all waves ridden unless one is body surfing a neighborhood river wave or shore break. Surfers who travel around the world probably have a larger carbon footprint from their travel than they will ever generate from using a surf park, but those kinds of surfers are a small percentage of the whole surfing population. And surf parks hold the promise of vastly increasing the overall numbers of surfers by opening up surfing to largely untapped populations living inland. Some surf parks have made an effort to get their energy from renewable sources, but it is unclear whether they are really contributing to increasing generation of sustainable energy or merely tapping into what is available causing other existing energy users to use a higher % from non-renewable sources.
As of 2021 there is a fledgling movement towards engineering more local wave opportunities in rivers that will cost zero energy to sustain. But standing waves in rivers, particularly those preferred by surfers, do not typically have a shape and steepness that favors surfskis. Then again, who knows? Maybe some of these will have configurations that make them reasonably surfable for surfskis also. Or maybe some surfskiers will want to exercise other water skills and surf with other watercraft (SUP, surf board, wave ski, slalom kayak, ???), particularly in locales where there are limited or non-existent opportunities to downwind or surf naturally formed waves.
About making river waves:
Finding waves where you can: