Steve Casar, an experienced surfer, tries Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park's Da'FlowRider for the first time, above.

Surf's Up!

Going with the flow on a new
water ride takes some practice

Johnny Lucero is a tough act to follow.

The 19-year-old lifeguard at Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park is not only in good shape at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, but he's been practicing for three days on the Kapolei venue's newest "ride," an artificial wave called Da'FlowRider.

Da'FlowRider grand opening

Where: Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park, 400 Farrington Highway, Kapolei
When: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $34.99 general, $24.99 for age 3 to 11. Kamaaina rates are $31.99 and $21.99, respectively. Seniors aged 60 and older pay $14.99.
Call: 674-9283

Blue Hawaii Surf/Ezekiel Midnight Mele

Hawaii's only night surf meet and concert with Inoa'ole, Koa'uka and Kapena, DJs Kutmaster Spaz and G-Spot, and surfers Ross Williams, Charlie Carroll and Pete Labradore.
When: 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday
Admission: $10 in advance at Blue Hawaii Surf Stores, Cheapos, UH Campus Center, Groovetickets.com; $15 at the door. Must be 18 and older.

Lucero stands on a ridiculously short board by surf standards -- about 4 feet long and 18 inches wide -- that's mostly teetering over a 40-percent grade, rubberized slope about 9 feet tall and more than 30 feet long.

His wide smile beams with confidence as he uses his front foot to push the nose of the Popsicle board over the ledge to meet, head on, 50,000 gallons of fresh water whooshing by each minute at 35 mph.

Lucero glides effortlessly into the rushing, roaring water and for more than a minute slides back and forth along the wave's 40-foot width, turning, cutting back, occasionally flailing but regaining his balance like it's a day off Waikiki.

My "instructor," Sean Gano, the park's promotions/marketing director, starts me off on the bottom of the pool alongside the rushing water, sort of a watery version of skiing's bunny slope. After I climb on the Flowboard, Gano carefully pushes me into the rushing stream, where I stand gloriously for maybe a second before I mistakenly turn the board and my wave instantly propels me up and over the slope into a small pool.

I thought I was headed for Farrington Highway.

My next two surfing attempts start on top of the slope. I take the drop with relative ease, only to fall spastically with arms, legs, heads flailing once I reach the bottom with a drop of the board's momentum.

An audience of nearly 100 park visitors watch and belly laugh at the unceremonious falls.

I retreat for a moment to get the special Flowboard body board, clutch it to my chest, then leap about 4 feet over the ledge into the rushing water where, for the next 30 seconds, I glide effortlessly from side to side, confidence restored, with an uncontrollable childlike smile.

Lucero and Gano cheer for me. I hear applause from some visitors.

KCCN FM 100 DJ Shannon Scott has a blast as he takes a turn.

Star-Bulletin writer Tim Ryan has fun while trying to master Da'FlowRider at Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park.

WITH SCHOOL OUT, many kids are already hitting the beach, but this summer they have a new wave to conquer, thanks to Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. The $1 million Da'FlowRider, which combines elements of surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding, will open to the public Saturday, following a 10:30 a.m. blessing.

Rather than generating waves, Da'FlowRider creates a thin sheet of water that flows over a stationary sloped wave form, resulting in a wave shape that lets riders using specialized FlowRider body and surfboards slide, turn and ride up the wave's surface.

"The only thing even close to this in Hawaii is when the Waimea River is opened to flow into the ocean, creating waves," said Gano.

Da'FlowRider" provides 40 feet of consistent wave action so anyone, regardless of age or skill level, can experience the thrill of catching and riding a wave.

This artificial wave machine -- one of 40 installations worldwide created by Wave Loch, Inc., La Jolla, Calif. -- is a self-contained, compact, flexible and modular "wave-in-a-box." Construction is of stainless steel and fiberglass.

Three high-powered submersible pumps produce waves by blasting thin sheets of water about 30 mph. The depth of the water underneath the rider is about three inches.

There's no age restriction, but there is a height minimum to ride Da'FlowRider. Body boarders must be 42 inches tall; stand-up surfers 52 inches.

Official Flowboards are the only water riding vehicle allowed. The stand-up board is shaped like a snowboard, at about 4 feet long and 18 inches wide with no fin. Wax is applied like a surfboard to prevent feet from slipping.

During weeks of test riding, those quickest to adapt to FlowRiders have been snowboarders and skim boarders, not surfers, Gano said.

"The first few times even champion board surfers tried our FlowRider it's been a very short ride, like three seconds," Gano said.

"The way to stand on it is with most of the weight on the back foot," he said.

To turn, a rider must point his or her shoulders in the direction of the wave and shift weight to the back leg.

Beginning stand-up riders catch the waves at the bottom of Da'FlowRider, alongside a small channel. The rider stands on the board with lifeguards alongside holding the rider's hands until balance is achieved. The lifeguards nudge the rider into the wave before letting go.

Riders who wipe out are swept to the padded top by the rushing water.

Park officials expect Da'FlowRider to be a very popular ride so it will be "breaking" seven days a week, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Gano said. There will be exclusive times for FlowRider Club members, though the general public will have access during the park's normal operating hours.

Da'FlowRider Club Memberships costs $40 monthly for Gold status, and $60 a month for Platinum. Platinum members receive a minimum 2.5 hours of ride time and general admission tickets. Club members may also participate in exclusive Dawn Patrol Sessions and evening Sunset Sessions. There is a 10-person limit in each session and no limit to the number of rides per session. You may also ride during normal park hours with a Flow Pass.

Hard-core FlowRiders can purchase the Platinum annual membership for $600, including a Hawaiian Waters annual pass.

Length of rides will be limited to about 30 seconds for the general public.

"That may seem brief but anyone who has surfed or bodyboarded knows you rarely get a 30-second ride on the ocean," Gano said.

Da'FlowRider will be used for competitions, with the first open event scheduled to take place in July, Gano said. The winner will be sent to San Diego for the national competition.

Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park

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