“Dude, forget surfing!” The instructor’s voice is pure Californian and he’s right, I’m in the surfless Balearic resort of Magaluf. Yet I am totally immersed, not in binge-drinking but in a surreal surf-like experience which feels nothing like surfing. Since July Mallorca has been experiencing a new wave of new wave entertainment. The Wave House is modern hotel complex built around two static wave machines overlooking the golden sands of Magaluf.
Welcome to the evolutionary world of Flowboarding. A growing 21st century boardsport that looks like surfing and mixes up the body-mechanics and footwork used on snowboards, wakeboards, skimboards and bodyboards. Flowboarding was pioneered by the Waveloch company in the USA throughout the 90s and now Magaluf has two of these hi-tech machines including Europe’s first FlowBarrel 10; a monster-truck sized wave that I am about to get spanked on.
I spin uncontrollably, wipe-out and get fired-up the slope - like Augustus Glump in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I then get dumped on my arse with my trunks giving me a ‘wedgy’ in front of a YouTube savvy crowd.
Open to the public, the Wave House has an outdoor Balearic beach-view hang-out that hosts superstar DJs and artists in space shared with the two flowboarding machines. These beasts create static “sheet waves” that are generated by a roaring three inch deep sheet of water being fired-upwards from a line of jets over a soft blue surface shaped like the ascending face of a wave. I’m riding on the FlowRider, the gentler of the two wave machines and trying not to surf, in the traditional sense, to avoid being continuously fired up over the top of the wave, upside down, holding onto my shorts.
“Dude, forget surfing!” I hear those wise words, again! All your bodyweight has to be placed on the back foot lifting the nose clean out of the water (for anyone not too old to remember their skateboard years think of a ‘manual’). Balancing on the back foot allows my toes and heels at act like hair-triggers sending me into a 360 spin. My Dervish acrobatics end the same way each. I spin uncontrollably, wipe-out and get fired-up the slope - like Augustus Glump in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I then get dumped on my arse with my trunks giving me a ‘wedgy’ in front of a YouTube savvy crowd.
After about 20 minutes, I get the balance right. In the next 10 minutes, I get hooked. Flowboarding does not feel like any other boardsport. With my confidence racing like a fool on a pedallo, I ask to ride on Europe’s first FlowBarrel 10. The big a bad-arse brother of the FlowRider generates a barrel big enough for the Oldspice man to ride inside. It’s a wave like those in the Guinness advert with the Leftfield soundtrack. Am I going to get tubed? Dream-on! The instructor insists that I jump over the 10 foot wall of water, headfirst, on a boogie board to get the feel of this roaring beast of water.
Flowboarding is the missing link for those who like their adrenaline served-up on a board. Flowboarding is a YES for the Olympics!
With a leap of faith and 10 foot of gravity behind me, the force of the sheet wave holds me for a second before fast-tracking my rouletting body back up the slope at 40 kilometers per hour and dumps me on my back. “I’ll slow it down, dude,” says the instructor on my second attempt. This time I’m in control, just like Icarus and his wings of wax, getting too close to the heat.
One minute I’m confidently gliding backwards into a massive tube, blissfully unaware that the idea is to slide in, a bit, and then get the hell out, fast! I’m lost in this space and about to request the Leftfield soundtrack when suddenly I get sucked into the wave’s vortex, lifted up and over the falls before I’ve even had time to think and slammed down so violently that my shorts end up in the Bronze medal position. I’m now hurtling on my back along a watery trough (only a few inches deep) and get slapped into crash mat in front of a cheering crowd. Despite the humiliation, I get back in line for more! Today I got BARELLED! Flowboarding is the missing link for those who like their adrenaline served-up on a board. Flowboarding is a YES for the Olympics!
Click here for more about Wave House Mallorca
Read more from Rowan at his blog Chairman of the Board, Surf Blog
Wave House Mallorca is located at:
Wave House Mallorca
Avenida Magaluf 18
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