In 1988, a patent application described “A wave-forming generator for generating inclined surfaces on a contained body of water.” This was the new idea – the sheet wave. Rather than pulse a rapidly deteriorating wave of energy through big pools of water, the “new wave” pumped water over a stationary surface, re-creating the speed and challenge of ocean waves in an enclosed system measured in square feet, not acres. The goal was to share the thrill , the lifestyle, and atmosphere of surfing to those that would never be able to enjoy it otherwise.Tom Lochtefeld, the inventor of the FlowRider, worked with design legends Charles Sauerbier and Carl Ekstrom to model the wave using wave tanks at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla. The first sheet wave opened at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Texas in 1991.
This led to a larger, curling FlowBarrel® sheet wave at the Summerland resort in Bo, Norway. This wave truly captured the feel and adrenaline of riding a wave at Big Rock, in La Jolla California – the powerful wave which was the inspiration for all we do today.Through the 1990s, Kelly Slater, Terje Haakonsen, and Tony Hawk worked with Tom to figure out the best board designs, and the corresponding techniques required to ride the sheet waves. The FlowBarrel was featured in Escape From L.A, a Midnight Oil music video, Sports Illustrated and Surfer Magazine. In 1999, a portable FlowBarrel was built and shipped around the world to support the SWATCH and Siemens Wave Tours, which visited Florence, Munich, Australia and a dozen other places – introducing the sport of flowboarding to the world.
"The FlowRider has become the “go to” product over the last 10-15 years."