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GET SOAKED AT THE MALL

Okay, first things first: This is not really surfing. Well, it is and it isn't.

This is what happens, though: The first time you walk into Adrenalina, the new surf, skate and extreme sports store at International Plaza, your eyes scan the entire store, and the first thing that catches your eye is the indoor "surf machine" in the back left corner.

Whoa.

It's hard to miss. There's a crowd of onlookers, most with their mouths open a tad, staring wide-eyed as 35,000 gallons of water shoot back in a jet stream as a surfer-looking dude glides back and forth until he (A) busts or (B) lets the next person in line go.

Yeah, that's Flowrider, an indoor water gadget that'll leave you sore, but wanting more.

"I surf all the time and I'm having a hard time with this," said Eddie Cerchione, a 32-year-old surfer from Tampa with more tattoos than arms and legs. "Its not really surfing though. It's more similar to wakeboarding, if you ask me."

When I found out about Flowrider, I got totally wicked stoked (that was my best surfer impersonation) and had to - had to - grab a board and go. Just seeing people do it gets you juiced. It shouts from you in its giant Plexiglass case: "Hey, you. Yeah, you. Come, ride me. I won't hurt you."

Well, it's sort of lying to you on that last part. It's easy to fall at first.

That's because, again, this isn't surfing. This is really a combination of wakeboaring, skimboarding, even snowboarding. As water shoots over the 10- to 12-foot hump, riders move back and forth; some are able to do tricks as well as move in three dimensions.

"I use the one in Orlando all the time," said Nick Leon, 30, of Wesley Chapel. "I couldn't wait for this one to open."

That probably goes for a lot of people. I went for a half hour, had a blast and busted more times than a rapper would rhymes.

The whole setup is radical. You get a board provided by the store, and basically just jump onto screaming jets. It's so loud you can barely here the employees on guard. You can start from the top and go down, almost as if you're snowboarding, or start from the bottom.

Get the hang of it, and soon you'll be doing tricks, too.

I had a hard time at first, but after about 10 tries or so, I stayed on a little longer, then a little longer. I wasn't doing 180s or any other sick moves, but I managed to stay upright, and that was my goal at the time.

Eventually you become more bodacious, gaining confidence that it won't hurt when you wipe - and trust me, you will wipe, no matter how much you surf or ski or whatever - and that you can balance yourself, even when slack-jawed gawkers are standing outside the Flowrider, laughing at you.

That's sweating the small stuff, though. Go try it, and you'll see how much fun it is. Buy some board shorts and go embarrass yourself - I mean, hang 10, broseph.

Adrenalina

The store is located at International Plaza, on the bottom floor near Nordstrom and California Pizza Kitchen. A 30-minute Flowrider session is $20, with various season passes available starting at $100. There will be a grand opening party Nov. 8. (813) 876-6930, adrenalinastore.com.

mcamunas@tampabay.com

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