River Run Park is home to a new wave, tentatively called Six or Nikki Sixx. It’s still in the development phase, and this fall will bring some significant tweaks that will change the shape and character of the wave. Those changes are intended to widen the range of flows that work well on the wave — currently, it only works well between around 200 cfs and 350 cfs. Since the overall tuning hasn’t been finished yet, the wave is only tuned and operating during certain times, even if the flows are right.
But as it is, Nikki’s is a fast, green, steep wave. It’s three or so times wider than her brother, Benni’s, downstream, and equally shallower. Depending on the tune, the wave can be nearly vertical, rising up at what feels like a 90-degree angle from the incoming water. When tuned that way, if you’re front-surfing it feels like your board is a diving board, hanging out over the deep trough. Flatter tunes are a little more forgiving, but not much. When I started surfing Benni’s it felt like there was little margin for error for trimming my board. Too nose-high and I drug off the back of the wave; too nose-down and I pearled and fell.
Nikki’s has about half the margin for error.
The steepness forces you to carve early and often which, given the speed of the wave, isn’t such a bad thing. Carving on it feels great, though it’s quite a bit back-foot and fin heavy, particularly when the wave is steeper.
Consequences are also higher, since the structure and plate forming the wave are so close, it’s important to fall shallow. The cement walls that form the wave can damage bodies or boards if you set an edge and don’t turn before you hit the wall. Lower flows also place fins at risk.
Overall, Chiclets, Benni’s, and Nikki’s form a clear progression in speed and difficulty as you move upstream. Nikki’s is a great addition to our Denver river surfing scene in River Run Park, and hopefully this fall’s changes will only improve it.