Flowriding (or Flowboarding) is a late-20th century alternative boardsport incorporating elements of surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, skimboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding.
Flowriders ride on artificial waves that are technically called "sheet waves". 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. Flowriders 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.
Even though there are a number of different types of structures used for flowriding, the two which are recognized at a competitive level are the WhiteWater West Single and Double FlowRiders and the WhiteWater West FlowBarrel.
The sports has two main divisions, based on the type of board: the flowboard and the bodyboard.
The flowboard is also known as the 'stand-up board' in flowriding. Currently there are four mainstream board brands: Ash Flowboards, Mak Flowboards, Wave Loch, and Jaan Flowboards. These boards differ in shape, materials, lengths and the angle at which the board curves. Generally they take a similar appearance to that of a wakeboard and can be further categorized into strapped and strapless boards. Boards with footstraps are generally used only on the FlowBarrel, but strapless boards are used on both the FlowRider and FlowBarrel. 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).
Many of the tricks incorporated in flowriding are inspired by skateboarding and wakeboarding. Riders are able to perform various maneuvers varying in difficulty such as carving, rotations varying in degree (90°, 180°, 360°), pop-shuvits and variations, kick-flips, foot-plant and fast-plant variations, and many more.
Bodyboarders ride standard bodyboards in the prone, kneeling, or drop-knee position. Each position forms the basic to its own set of tricks. In most competitions, bodyboarders are required to do tricks in both prone and kneeling positions. There are four brands most would look to for bodyboards; Cartel, Carbon, World Class Bodyboards and WaveLoch.
The Flowboarding League of the World (or FLOW), run by WhiteWater West Inc, hosts flowboarding competitions. In 2014, they hosted the North American Flow Tour, Flow Tour Asia, as well as the World Flowboarding Championship in Abu Dhabi.
Currently there are two main categories of competitions in the United States, The North American Flow Tour Prime Events as well as Flow Series events. Both hold contests at different venues around the country. Competitors compete in divisions by age and gender and are generally given three 30-45 second judged runs and the best two are counted. Past reputable judges have included Sean Silveira, JP O'Brien, Eric Silverman, Chuck Wright, Theo Koby, Nick Sanchez, Adam Muller, Brad Spencer as well as many others. There are also two main categories of competitions in the United Kingdom, European Flow Tour and UK Flow Tour.