Albee Layer: Surfer delights in ‘artificial wave’ victory

Story highlights

Surfers compete in the first international competition held on an artificial wave.

Event held at Surf Snowdonia, North Wales

Albee Layer beat Billy Stairmand in the final.

The pool cost $18.6m to develop

CNN  — 

Surfers face many challenges, perhaps most notably sharks, but some of the sport’s best proponents had to overcome a new test over the weekend in one of Britain’s most beautiful spots – negotiating artificial waves.

Best known for its mountains and hiking, Snowdonia in North Wales hosted Red Bull Unleashed – the first international surf competition held on an artificial wave – as 2,000 fans flocked to Dolgarrog, Conway.

The winner, 24-year-old Albee Layer, who beat Billy Stairmand in the final, clearly loved the artificial waves and the attempt by organizers to create a stadium-style event for surfing.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming here,” said the Hawaiian.

“It’s been incredible! Surfing so close to so many people, music playing, heaps of energy in the air, to get the win is crazy. If more events were like this, I’d do them!” added Layer, who starred in his first film “Attractive Distractions” last year.

The new competition involves pairs of surfers going head-to-head in a best of five format and while critics of the idea might argue that it cannot recreate the ocean’s changing moods, the competition is set to return next year.

“How good is this event going to be next year?” competitor Ian Crane told the Red Bull website. “Can I sign up for 2016 yet? After this year everyone’s gonna (sic) want to come, I want to lock my entry in already!”

Surf Snowdonia, which uses WaveGarden technology, was developed and pioneered by a group of enthusiasts in San Sebastian, Spain.

The pool was built at a cost of $18.6 million on the site of a former aluminum factory.