Watersports are not for the faint-hearted and flowboarding is no exception. One man that has enjoyed success in the sport and has helped it grow into the worldwide phenomenon it is today is Alfian Affandi. The 31 year old made history in 2010 when he became the first flowboarder to be signed to an international brand. Affandi consistently ranks among the world’s top flowboarders. The Singaporean was at Wild Wadi, Dubai with Billabong to unveil an array of his tricks to the fans and give some journalists a lesson on the wave.
SFME’s Scott Grayston spoke to the iconic rider about the sport that the United Arab Emirates are thriving in.
SFME: How did you first get into flowboarding?
Alfian: I have been crazy about boardsports ever since I was in my early teens. I loved surfing, skiing, wakeboarding and skimboarding when growing up. I actually got really good at skimboarding and I travelled the world to compete in skimboarding events. I got a job, however, to ride with Wave House Sentosa that made me start focusing on flowboarding. After a few weeks of training I competed in the first International Flowboarding Championship (IFC) in 2009 and I managed to win. Since then Billabong have supported me in the sport and I’ve never looked back.
SFME: What have been the highlights of your career so far?
AF: My highlight was definitely in 2012. I won the Asia Tour and also got third place overall in the World Championship in Mallorca.
SFME: What is flowboarding?
AF: Flowboarding is a relatively new sport in the extreme sports scene and sometimes mistaken as just another fun attraction. It is a combination of most of the board sports. It has similar riding techniques but some professionals from other board sports might find it hard to get used to. The only major difference is that flowriders ride on artificial waves rather than in the open sea or on snow.
SFME: How are competitions judged?
AF: Each competitor is given 45 seconds for each run to execute tricks and skate manoeuvres to try and impress the judges. Flowboarders should aim to provide variety, originality, style and execution if they want to get the highest scores from the judges.
SFME: What’s the difference between flowboarding and surfing?
AF: Flowboarding is like surfing, but in a stationery manner. The wave is always consistent and you don’t have to paddle out like surfing which saves you loads of time and energy. This makes the sport much easier to progress because the wave is always the same and you get more time riding against it. All you need to do is press a button to get the wave going.
SFME: Do you see flowboarding growing as a sport in The Middle East?
AF: Absolutely. The United Arab Emirates defended their title at The World Flowboarding Championships recently in Abu Dhabi. USA and Singapore are their biggest rivals but you can tell the UAE are improving every year and one of their members Humaid Al Bloushi, won the bodyboarding competition which is fantastic.
SFME: What are the most important skills and attributes that a flowboarder should possess?
AF: Good stamina is essential because you only have 45 seconds to show what you’ve got so you don’t have time to mess around when competing. If I go to the gym I work on my core muscles and upper body so I feel strong when trying to pull off some tricks. Core muscles also help you improve your balance which is pivotal once you’re riding the wave.
What did SFME’s Scott Grayston think about flowboarding when testing it out for the first time?
I couldn’t believe how difficult it was, but incredibly fun. The strength, balance and skill you need just to get up onto the board is a challenge, but once you get riding a wave, it’s a unique thrill. I would definitely recommend it to any adventurous sport enthusiasts that want to try out something new.