Family Entertainments: Brushboarding Taking Off!

As a father of pre-teens I am naturally considered desperately, wincingly uncool. I am not a�?buttera�?, certainly not a�?all that and a bag of chipsa�? and hopelessly at sea with todaya��s rappity-pop stars and their portfolio of perplexing hand gesticulations. Howevera��

I drive a car. And this car takes my daughters and their friends to the world’s only live Brushboarding ramp and so right now I am riding high on the crest of a vicarious wave with this undoubtedly cool and chic new sport (see video below).

Our visit last week was made all the more special as the Exeter City Football Clubs’ first eleven was due to be Brushboarding at the same time as the girls. On our way, there was much excited chatter about getting autographs and bragging rights at school ‘cos they would not only have met the players themselves but “boarded” with them too.

In case your finger is not on the pulse (the sport has been featured on the BBC news recently –see Brushing up on boarding skills with new sport – and the Breakfast show is rumoured to be paying a visit) Brushboarding, run by Kyle Dent’s Extreme Sports Zone, takes place on a ramp, designed in the shape of a curved slope, like the incline you might find in a skateboard park. Ingeniously, the surface is not flat concrete but a mass of fine bristles: in fact, thousands of tiny bristled wheels, set perpendicular to the surface and each spinning together, creating a convincing, dynamic surface on which a rider can board. It allows you to "ski" or "snowboard" where there is no snow, or "surf" where there is no water. The ramp is portable, affordable and there is currently enormous interest from attractions and facilities globally.

Already the board has made quite a splash at Crealy Adventure Parks ( see: 2007 UK Windsurfing Champion John Hibbard to launch Brush Ramp at Devon’s Crealy) here in Devon and has attended various events across the country including a number of Royal Air Force shows. As the speed of the wheels can be changed in accordance with the skill/age of the rider, everyone from champion surfers to small children on their first ride can participate and enjoy the exhilarating feeling of surfing or skiing whilst miles from snow or water. It might also provide a convenient way in which urban inlanders, deprived of sea or snow, can still develop their boarding skills.

So Thursday’s visit to the ramp was hotly anticipated and not just for the footballers. It turned out that each of the 5 girls could ride, some better than others but all well enough to get vertical and become hooked. A couple even managed to swoop down from the top of the ramp (like surfing down from the height of a big wave) and stay onboard. The sport also provides tremendous exercise: we had a car full of aching calves on the way home as each child eagerly looked forward to our next visit. The footballers had been disappointing though: it was the under ten’s team.

See also: Roller Coasters and the Science of Thrill Seeking