Flowboarding: Riding the waves

flowboarding sentosa
By Gloria Lin

What is Flowboarding?

Flowboarding can be described as a mix of various board sports that include surfing, snowboarding, skimboarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding. In flowboarding, riders balance on an artificial wave using a combination of moves and techniques adapted from various boardsports, creating a whole new experience for the rider.

There are two ways to ride the waves - on a bodyboard or on a flowboard. Generally, beginners start off learning bodyboarding where they attempt to ride the waves by by balancing on the board with their stomachs.  The more advanced riders will use a flowboard where they ride the waves standing.

History of Flowboarding

While several people have been credited with the development of flowboarding, the FlowRider, which is the first system created to generate artificial waves, was developed by American Tom Lochtefeld. Lochtefeld who started out as a surfer, is the founder of Wave Loch Inc. Wave Loch Inc is the manufacturer of the FlowRider and FlowBarrel systems which are currently the most widely used artificial “wave maker” systems in the world.

Since the 1980s, many alternative board sport athletes have refined the art of flowboarding to accommodate their unique boarding styles. These athletes come from diverse backgrounds that include surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding. Their influence in these respective sports spilled over to flowboarding and enabled it to gain a following of its own.


1) Bodyboarding

To bodyboard, riders lie on the board with their stomach, using their legs and elbows to control steer and control.  Riders use their legs to control movement while the elbows,which are placed firmly on the edge of the board - help riders move the board either backward or forward. To steer the board forward, riders lean forward  it; to move it backward, riders lean backwards.

To move from side to side, riders lean towards the direction they are heading towards. . To make sharp turns, riders can tug on the respective side of the board.  

2) Flowboarding

To flowboard, the key to balancing is to place one foot firmly in front of the board while keeping the knees bent. The front foot should be at the front or middle of the flowboard while the back foot should be approximately three inches from the edge. The key difference between flowboarding and surfing lies in the techniques riders use to maintain balance - For surfing, the body weight is placed on the front foot. During flowboarding, the pressure is placed on the back foot instead to maintain balance.

Who can flowboard?

Due to the intensity of the sport, riders must meet certain requirements before they can startflowboarding. To bodyboard, riders need to be at least 107cm tall; to flowboard, one needs to be at least 133cm tall to stand-up on the FlowRider or to ride the FlowBarrel wave.

Similar to other high-powered sports, flowriders are required to be physically fit  and free from health conditions such as heart, neck, back, or bone problems etc. Riders should also not have underlying ailments like high blood pressure or aneurysms.

Flowriding is suitable for all ages - even children can have a go, provided they now how to swim and meet the height requirements. Riders younger than 18 years old require a parent or guardian to be there, to sign an indemnity form. Riders must also be strong swimmers, or at least be able to swim in waters going at high speeds.

Why Flowboard?

Although difficult at first, especially for people with no experience in board sports, flowriding is relatively easier to get a hang of than its cousins as the waves in question are man-made and thus, constant. This means that new riders will know what to expect after riding for a while. Also, once riders get used to balancing on the flowboard, it is easy to progress to more complex moves.

To get started, simply head over to Wave House that is located along Siloso Beach in Sentosa to try the FlowRider, and the FlowBarrel.

The FlowRider produces a steady wave at 32 km/h and is perfect for beginners, while the FlowBarrel is a continuous barrel wave going at 48 km/h and is great for thrill-seekers. A shot at the FlowRider starts at $35 for an hour-long session on a weekday and prices for the FlowBarrel starts at $45 for an hour-long session on a weekday. Single attempt on the FlowBarrel costs just $12.

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