Flowboarding is a late-20th Century alternative boardsport that is an alchemy of board designs, techniques, tricks and culture derived from surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, skimboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding.
Flowboarders ride on artificial waves that are technically called “sheet waves.” Known technically as the WaveLoch Flow Rider and the Flow Barrel, these sheet waves are the patented constructions of [http://www.waveloch.com Wave Loch, Inc] . which is headquartered in
La Jolla, California. Powerful pumps project a three-inch layer of water at speeds ranging from 20 MPH to 30 MPH. The water flows up and over surfaces engineered to replicate the shape of ocean waves. Sheet waves are stationary waves, in that the wave does not move forward, and the movement is derived from water flowing over a stationary surface. Flowboarders get their speed from the energy of the water flowing at them, and can perform basic to sophisticated turns and tricks within a relatively small area.
The technical description for sheet wave from patent application 5,401,117, dated March 28, 1995 reads: “A sheet flow is where the water depth is sufficiently shallow such that the pressure disturbance caused by a rider and his vehicle are generally known as the ‘ground effect.’ This provides for an inherently more stable ride, thus requiring less skill to catch and ride a wave.’”
Participants ride standard
bodyboards in the prone or kneeling position. Stand up flowboards are constructed like wakeboards: A foam core wrapped with fiberglass, but with a soft EVAedge (ethylene vinyl aceate) to offer protection. Some flowboards come with footstraps, while some flowboarders prefer to ride unstrapped. Flowboards range in length from: 910 millimeters (36 inches) to 1070 millimeters (42 inches); and in width from 280 millimeters (11 inches) to 356 millimeters (14 inches). They weigh between 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) and 2.8 kilograms (6 pounds).
http://www.wavehouse.com/home.asp Wave House San Diego] ]
The WaveLoch Bruticus Maximus at Wave House San Diego
Although riding without fins is similar to snowboarding, Flowboarders put their weight primarily on their back foot, un-like snowboarders. Unstrapped flowboarders can perform kick-flips and other tricks like skateboarders, strapped flowboarders can pull of double backflips like wakeboarders but the sport is still closest to surfing, in that flowboarding is done on moving water. Riding the FlowBarrel Bruticus Maximus, flowboarders can spend as much time as they want “locked in” to the barreling tube of the curling wave. Moving out to the shoulder of the wave, flowboarders can do turns, carves and aerials like surfers. The more advanced flowboarders draw from skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding to do advanced kick flip and aerial maneuvers – like double backflips - that are not possible on moving waves.
Flowboarding began to evolve in the early 1990s with the installation of the first FlowRider at the
SchlitterbahnWater Park in New Braunfels, Texas. By 2007, there are more than 80 FlowRider or FlowBarrel sheet wave attractions around the world, and there is a summer Flow Tour of more than 20 events that brings the best flowboarders in the United States and internationally to compete at the Wave HouseSan Diego for the Wave House Summer Flow Tour National Championships in September.
Photos: Kelly Slater in Dubai, Terje Haakonsen on the SWATCH Wave Tour and Tony Hawk in the barrel at Wave House San Diego: Arguably the best surfer, the best snowboarder and best skateboarder in the history of their boards sports. All were involved in the evolution of flowboarding.
[http://www.syndicateboardcompany.com Syndicate Board Company]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evEKUoXSINM You Tube: Share the Air - "The Flowrider"]
* Information supplied by WaveLoch, Inc, manufacturer of the Flowrider and WaveLoch
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