The Wave Bristol 2022: What to expect from founder Nick Hounsfield with focus on expansion, blue health and community

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As the team behind The Wave announces six new surfing sites and their original Bristol destination opens back up for 2022, we chat to founder Nick Hounsfield about his plans for the year

The £25million project at Easter Compton, The Wave Bristol, has been celebrating two years in business, despite the pandemic threatening to squash the dream before it had even started.

Having shut up shop for maintenance, reflection and grand planning for the beginning of the year, the site is now back open and founder Nick Hounsfield is excited for what’s to come.

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After suffering a series of strokes just after The Wave initially opened, Mr Hounsfield has spent the last two years focusing on his own recovery, his own use and other peoples’ focus on using The Wave for therapy, and on fighting to make The Wave what it is today.

And clearly, with six new sites announced for expansion across the UK and Ireland, he’s doing something very right.

What’s in store for 2022?

So, what can people expect from The Wave this year? “A lot of what’s been going on while we’ve been closed in January was about planning for the next year. It’s given us a bit of time out from day-to-day operations to really look at what the future looks like for Bristol and the future expansion of The Wave Bristol site,” says Mr Hounsfield.

“We’ve really been looking at getting the campsite ready for customers and we’re looking toward a brighter future as opposed to a restricted future. It’s been real future-facing stuff as opposed to the last few years, which has felt more like firefighting - it’s been quite refreshing!”

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Mr. Hounsfield tells us how, having had some time to reflect on the chaotic last two years, he’s most proud of keeping going and staying openMr. Hounsfield tells us how, having had some time to reflect on the chaotic last two years, he’s most proud of keeping going and staying open
Mr. Hounsfield tells us how, having had some time to reflect on the chaotic last two years, he’s most proud of keeping going and staying open

Mr Hounsfield tells us how, having had some time to reflect on the chaotic last two years, he’s most proud of keeping going and staying open. “We’ve got amazing people who have worked day and night to keep us alive and afloat,” he says.

“I’m most proud that we are still here - it’s another part of that rollercoaster ride that we are continually on. Our team is so important and our customers have been so loyal.”

Importance of blue health

The Wave has become so much more than just being about landlocked surfers now, and through reflection, Mr Hounsfield has realised how many people rely on the space to aid their own wellbeing.

With blue health a hugely rising part of people’s wellbeing repertoire and the power of nature central to many Bristol dwellers, it’s not surprising that this has become a huge part of what The Wave offers.

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The impact that blue health can have on people’s wellbeing is huge, with water proven to make people feel calmerThe impact that blue health can have on people’s wellbeing is huge, with water proven to make people feel calmer
The impact that blue health can have on people’s wellbeing is huge, with water proven to make people feel calmer

“I’m proud that The Wave has become something people really want. After the pandemic, people seem to have really realised the importance of being outside, being in nature, being in or around water, and people have come to rely on The Wave for their own mental wellbeing - in a positive way,” explains Mr. Hounsfield.

“That’s been a real eye-opener. The number of people who contact me every two or three days to say that, without The Wave, they would be in a bad place right now and that it has really helped them, is crazy.”

It’s important to the team that they don’t go down the tried and tested route of becoming what could essentially be a middle-class playground. “We’ve always had commitments since day one that it is for all ages, backgrounds and abilities,” says Mr Hounsfield.

“We want to look at who is not coming to us and create the inclusive business that we’ve always wanted to create. We want to change surf culture to be much more accessible for women and accessible for people from ethnic minorities, so we will look at bringing together pilot projects that look into this.”

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There is a huge focus at The Wave on creating an inclusive business, with a focus on bringing people in from all sorts of different backgroundsThere is a huge focus at The Wave on creating an inclusive business, with a focus on bringing people in from all sorts of different backgrounds
There is a huge focus at The Wave on creating an inclusive business, with a focus on bringing people in from all sorts of different backgrounds

Community is central

Despite a huge expansion outside of Bristol having been confirmed, this element of community is still incredibly central to everything Mr Hounsfield prioritises at The Wave. “Going forward, in many ways, there’s a responsibility for us to still provide that safe space for people to be able to escape to, a bit of an oasis,” he says.

“We’ve got something new coming at us globally, and it could mean that people might not be able to go abroad again, so we are making sure that we are creating a community that people can come and dip into and have their own safe space to reflect upon and have positivity surrounding them.

“There’s a lot of positivity that we could still be spreading that can be infectious and that can make sure our local communities are well.”

Speaking of positivity, one of the main elements that Mr Hounsfield is looking forward to at the Bristol site this year is for people to have an uninhibited joyful experience, after years of restriction and complication. “Not having masks and seeing the positivity coming through will be amazing,” he smiles.

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“With the new accommodation, it’s all about offering people that immersion.

“Allowing people to be onsite and have a full immersive experience waking up in nature, hearing the waves crashing and the birds singing. There are not many places where you can wake up to the sounds of the waves. We can start to look at music nights, film nights and have things going on on an evening that can develop our culture and community aspect.”

It’s all about immersion at The Camp at the Bristol WaveIt’s all about immersion at The Camp at the Bristol Wave
It’s all about immersion at The Camp at the Bristol Wave

So, what are some of the biggest plans for 2022 in Bristol? “We are looking to do some amazing stuff around different cultures, bringing them into The Wave and celebrating that,” says Mr Hounsfield. “We’re looking at things like International Women’s Day and how we can contribute to those conversations, as well.”

Mr. Hounsfield tells us how they are looking at environmental impacts, too. “Later in the year, we’re putting in an entire solar array so that we take the entire site off-grid,” he says. “I’m excited to bring to life all the things we’ve really wanted to do over the first couple of years.”

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Spreading the Bristol love

When it comes to the announcement of six new sites, an investment of over £200million and an exclusive partnership with Wavegarden to pioneer more surf lakes, Mr Hounsfield is passionate and excited. “It’s incredibly exciting,” he smiles.

“We’ve got the land in London and it’s a beautiful piece of land that is perfect for us, but now we are looking at various other sites and are making sure that they are all deliverable from a business point of view but also that they are at the heart of a community that really needs us as well.”

The team are excited to export the Bristol vibe and culture to other areas of the UK and IrelandThe team are excited to export the Bristol vibe and culture to other areas of the UK and Ireland
The team are excited to export the Bristol vibe and culture to other areas of the UK and Ireland

One of the most exciting elements of this for Mr Hounsfield is that he gets to take a piece of Bristol culture, a piece of the heart of Bristol, out to other places across the country. “It’s kind of cool to envisage what we’ve done in Bristol in all sorts of places in the UK and abroad,” he says.

“We’ve got a huge affinity to Bristol but I’m excited to take the thought, care and all the information that we’ve harnessed here and take it to new places. It’s like exporting all the great stuff, the thinking and the culture of Bristol and taking it elsewhere.”

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