NEWPORT — One wave is the same as the other – whether in northern Vermont or the Dominican Republic, on the water or the hill.
That’s what Monica Caffrey found out earlier this month, when the North Country Union sophomore finished in second place in the World Flowboarding Championships at Surf House Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
Somewhere between surfing and snowboarding, flowboarding is an indoor sport where athletes surf on snowboard-sized boards in machine-driven jets of water. There’s a flowboard facility at the Pump House Indoor Water Park at Jay Peak, where Caffrey learned the sport and where she trains every weekend while working as a lifeguard.
There were two categories, body boarding and standup boarding. In her discipline of standup flowboarding, Caffrey took runs of 40 seconds, “or until I fell,” she said with a laugh.
Flowboarders ride on water that is anywhere from an inch to two and a half inches deep. The water is jetted in by guns into where boarders ride, known as the trampoline.
“It creates the bounce and the height that you need to do tricks,” she noted, adding that water comes into the trampoline area at the rate of about 35-40 miles per hour. It was the same setup as the flowboard machine as Jay. “The dimensions were slightly different, but it was the same setup,” she noted, adding that a boarder from Asia beat her out for the standup title.
The flowboard bug first bit Caffrey at age 10, she said. Carving her way to the worlds involved accumulating points. “Only pros can represent the US,” she said, adding that she was one of the top picks after nationals.
“It was awesome,” the 16-year-old Caffrey said Monday in looking back on the Nov. 9-11 experience.
She’s a snowboarder, and has tried surfing as well. When asked, “I tell people that flowboarding and snowboarding are similar,” she said. “It’s the same concept and idea, with a different feeling.”