"The first big rotation air I landed, a full nose-to-the-beach haymaker was probably the best air I have ever done."
Jacob Szekely was talking to the WSL from Siheung, South Korea, after he had just done his first day's testing at the Wave Park, a new facility powered by Wavegarden technology.
The Wave Park is located on a huge new waterfront development on Turtle Island, less than an hour's drive from Seoul. Opening to the public this week, all be it with Covid restrictions in place, the water park is Stage 1 of a US$ 2bn project that includes six hotels, convention centers, marinas and museums.
For surfers it represents yet another progression in the wave pool arms race. It is the biggest site that has used the Wavegarden tech, allowing for more variety of waves, longer tubes and a new air section.
"The speed you can generate is insane, and it has the perfect little lip every time," said Szekely. "I've surfed all the other wave pools and the ramp is as good as anything I've surfed. I've done some airs that no one has ever seen before and hopefully there's more to come."
It is thought that there is less than 100 surfers in all of South Korea and with the pool's proximity to the capital Seoul, and its population of almost 10 million, it could become the country's surfing hub.
"There isn't many surfers here, but they are teaching so many instructors so it's cool to see the very start of a surf scene happening," said the WSL Airborne competitor Szekely.
In terms of a surf trip, it definitely is something very different from the usual jaunts to Mexico, Hawaii or Indonesia. The center is surrounded by newly constructed skyscrapers and purpose-built surf resort style shopping malls, all built on previously contaminated reclaimed ocean.
"There's a 25-style DJ booth right by the wave pool and there was a DJ pumping techno vibes over the water," continues Szekely. "With the futuristic building surrounding the wave, and the blue water, it feels like you have beamed into the future."