Surf simulator comes to Swiss Cottage

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 July 2012

Reporter Josh Pettitt gets to grips with FlowRider at the O2 Centre

Reporter Josh Pettitt gets to grips with FlowRider at the O2 Centre


The last wave I caught was against the backdrop of golden sand and bohemian bars, so a supermarket car park in Swiss Cottage seemed an unlikely destination for my next surfing fix.

If your surfing experience is all about spectacular coastlines and lazy pub lunches, this quick thrill with Sainsbury’s and a train line for your views might not be your surfing Mecca.

But through the O2 centre, dodging cars and padding across a fake beach lined with deck chairs you come to the FlowRider – one of only five such wave machines in the country which shoots water up a ramp with enough force to blow you from your feet.

After watching the water treadmill mercilessly claiming victim after victim in a whirlwind of arms and legs, I suited and booted ready for my turn to tame the monster.

For a quick demo instructor Charlie Wright, 16, grabbed a board and hopped on the unforgiving torrent, skating across the surface with ease.

With youthful arrogance I leapt on and was immediately jettisoned backwards in a somersaulting mess before bashfully sliding down the side of the water jets – baby steps I reminded myself.

This time more gingerly I flopped onto the waves with a bodyboard and tried to settle down as the water rushed past my face. Luckily, being a rather heavy chap, I made a good anchor and managed to crab across the wave – with little elegance – but effectively enough.

A barrel roll, board flick and a few minutes of knee-surfing later I was ready to take on the board for a second time.

Holding onto Charlie – who turned out to be a sponsored rider ranked in the top five in Europe for his age – I ventured into the water striking a somewhat awkward pose as I tried to find my balance in the raging water.

While FlowRider might not offer rolling swells and foamy white water, the simulator can quench your thirst for thrills within seconds. And rather than swallowing sea salt after a stomach churning wipeout, the spongy banks of the FlowRider are a forgiving springboard which will only spur all ages on to have another whirl.

One-hour sessions are £29.99 and the FlowRider will be at the 02 Centre until next Friday (August 3). For more information and how to book visit:

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