Surfing and Toronto’s waterfront don’t often go hand-in-hand.

Brian Jackson, journalist
Brian Jackson

It’s not that some desperate beach bums don’t try to catch a wave on Lake Ontario every now and then, but there’s just not much wake to ride on. Surfing, most North Americans know, is best left for ocean beaches along the west coast. Unless the FlowRider drives into town – as it has for the Canadian National Exhibition.

You could call the FlowRider a breakthrough in mobile technology – it’s a mobile wave. Literally, a flatbed truck trailer that can drive anywhere and unfold into a perpetual wave (it never crashes into foam). The wave is created by shooting thousands of gallons of water over a moulded plastic bump. The water is just three inches deep, but high pressure enough for a person and a board to surf on.

Dan McBride, with Toronto-based Rick Davis Promotions Inc. gave me a tour behind the scenes of the wave. Out front, there’s sandy beach volley ball courts, a tiki-style bar serving up samples of Sprite, and bleachers along both sides of the FlowRider. Around back, there’s the other section of the truck that contains the fully automated computer system that keeps the wave flowing and surfers happy.

McBride says he travels wherever the wave takes him, and for good reason. The promotions company has done a good job of turning this unique technology into a beach-resort themed feature of the CNE. I suspect the feature also hauls in some serious coin – surfing on the wave costs $20 a pop and people were lined up waiting to take turns.

It’s the only mobile wave in the world, McBride says. So it goes to show how combining a unique technology with the right marketing approach can result in a winner – even if wipe outs are part and parcel of the experience.

Torontonians can catch the wave at the CNE until Sept. 6. It’s totally perpetual, dude.

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