Can't make it to the coast to cruise the waves this year?
The newest attraction at Maui Sands may be the next best thing. It's as close as one can get to surfing in northern Ohio -- minus the saltwater and sharks.
SurfRider, the only surf simulator of its kind in the western hemisphere, recently made its wet and wild debut at the resort.
"It's been really popular so far," Maui Sands spokeswoman Lexi Robinson said as several young surfers waited in line preparing to take on the waves inside the resort's Cabana Village area. "It's a lot of fun to watch."
Though surf simulators are bringing added thrills to waterparks throughout the country, Robinson said SurfRider is unique because of its distinctive shape, water depth and surface. With waves that crest at nearly four feet and varying speeds, it allows for veteran and novice surfers alike to experience thrills at their own pace.
Its depth allows for more control of water speed and gives riders greater flexibility in choosing from a variety of boards.
Both stand-up surfing and body-boarding are permitted.
Maui Sands waterpark manager Adam Myers said the technology makes the experience more realistic.
"There's more water flow, less of a back-wave and more of a traditional wave," Myers said. "We can turn it down for smaller riders or turn it way up."
The control station allows for six possible speeds -- with the first rolling out a fairly tame wave and the sixth delivering a far more treacherous one.
The attraction, built by WaveLoch, delivers a continuous wave of 150,000 gallons of rushing water powered by a generator below the pool's surface.
Riders get three attempts to stay on the board or three minutes of steady surfing, depending on their experience.
Though riders must be at least 52 inches tall to surf, there is no age limit. Liz Kubaszak, 11, braved the waves Wednesday afternoon and said staying on the board was easy.
"It was once she got the hang of it," said her mother, Emily Kubaszak, on vacation with her family from Granger, Ind. "She had all day yesterday to practice."
For more information on SurfRider or to buy a day pass for the waterpark, visit www.MauiSandsResort.com.