Soul surfing

HAWAIIAN LEGEND says that riding a wave is like touching the face of the gods. Upon each swell, the wave becomes the rider’s temple, a place of sanctity and respect.

By Mohamad Kadry (Staff Reporter)

Published: Mon 23 Jun 2008, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:19 PM

So spiritual is this subculture of ocean dwellers, that it quickly spread the world over into a movement transcending language and heritage.

While Dubai may lack the dream waves found along the North Shore, leave it to the dream makers to produce an artificial substitution that was unprecedent ed at its inauguration, and unparallelled in its design.

The wave that helped spawn a thousand surfers, Wild Wadi’s Flowrider machine has helped cultivate this ancient sport attracting professionals from the sands of Australia to the sands of Arabia.

In its 5th year, Wild Wadi’s Flowboarding Competition encompassed three days of pure wet fun, offered professional flowboarders, as well as enthusiasts of all abilities, a chance to compete on the Wipeout Flowrider for a grand prize to South Africa.

The event consisted of two categories; the StandUp competition and the Body Boarding competition. The Pepsi Flowboarding Competition also hosted top international flowboarders who demonstrated their skills on the Flowrider and judged the competitions.

But there were significant changes in the participant demographics this year. More than any other previous year, local Emiratis took to the waves to compete. For many, this would be their first experience riding a wave, albeit in an artificial tank.

With only days, and for some merely hours, to practice, the amateur riders gave new meaning to ‘soul surfing’.

In the stand-up competition, the first place went to Khalifa, second to Nathaniel Alapide, third to James Harvey and fourth to Abdulla Al Mandoos.

In the body boarding competition, first place went to Daniel Van Dooren, second to Stephen Nussbaum, third to Felino Fontanilla, and fourth to JC Van Der Berg.

Claire Reid, Marketing Executive for Wild Wadi, is not your average executive. The world champion of flow rider, this South African native has seen tremendous growth for the sport in recent years.

“There is actually a big community of boarders living in Dubai. They’ve invented moves that no one else in the world has,” she says.

A true surfer at heart, Claire was instantly hooked when South Africa was introduced to the new wave technology. “It’s easier than surfing because you have one [artificial] wave. With surfing, each wave is different. It’s fantastic, easily one of the hardest waves I’ve ridden.” With the advent of venues like Wild Wadi’s Flowrider and Ski Dubai, there is a growing subculture of athletes looking to emerge and expand.

“There are a lot of expats as well as locals that love the water sports,” explains Jihane El Fadl, Marketing Communications Manager for Wild Wadi, “and there’s nothing better than Dubai’s 365 days of sunshine.” “The future goal to this is to form a body boarding community and send them across the world to compete on behalf of the UAE; this is our long term objective,” she adds.

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