Give me a wake, give me a board

Wakeboarding2

A few weeks back I blogged about how much fun I had wakeboarding in Turkey a couple of years ago, and that I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t done it again since.  So, I got in touch with Penarth Waterski and Wakeboard Club to see what they could offer.  Cue a beautiful sunny Sunday in Cardiff Bay, two speedboats, and eight eager beavers wet-suited up for a taster session of either wakeboarding or water-skiing.  For £25 you get two 15 minute long sessions.  You definitely don’t get the feeling that you are being ripped off by a commercial enterprise, because you’re not – the coaches and drivers don’t profit.

For tactical reasons, I chose to go last (less time being wet and cold – two things which make for an intolerably grumpy Suz).  Olly and I had wondered whether we were going to be hopeless at it to start with, given the time which had elapsed since Turkey, but he got up on the rope straight away.  A positive sign.  Less positive when he attempted to jump the wake and caught his toe side, resulting in an almighty faceplant which was so forceful I actually thought it had knocked him out.  No such luck (joke).  He was fine.  But our coach Kevin told us that he had been hospitalised recently for four broken ribs and an almost-punctured lung following a fall which wasn’t nearly as bad as Olly’s.  My conclusion?  I’m dating Iron Man.

Then it was my turn.  Looking like a peculiar seal in a helmet, I popped myself in the water with alacrity.  Oh my, that was refreshing.  I would have been better off in my winter wetsuit but the damn thing is so difficult to get on and off.  Anyhow, to my delight, I also got up on the rope first time, and it was a good few minutes before I first came crashing back down to water.  If I wasn’t properly awake before, I certainly was after.

It felt pleasantly comfortable just messing about inside the wake, scooting over it to go out wide, and surfing the sides.  It really is a lot of fun, and you aren’t going so fast that you can’t enjoy your surroundings.  Later, Kevin was happy enough with my ability to try a ‘switch’.  This basically means switching your leading leg by turning your board 180 degrees in the water.  I had done this in Turkey, but it’s such a bizarre, unnatural feeling.  By the end of the session I had managed it a couple of times, so I left with a smile (albeit blue-lipped).

The best thing about the day was that it made me forget, just for a little while, about the horrible stuff which has been going on in my life recently.  So, if you want a bit of active outdoors therapy, give wakeboarding a try!

Launch point        Wakeboard wide

Wakeboarding3        Wakeboarding2

Wakeboarding Olly2        Wakeboarding Olly

Bird

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No faceplants please

Wakeboarding

I’ve always been one for anything sport, outdoors and water.  So wakeboarding is pretty much made for me.  I first gave it a go in Turkey on a Neilson holiday, which is where I met the love of my life (vom).  As it was new to me, and I had never snowboarded either, the instructors there told me to have a go at water-skiing first.  I told them where to stick that suggestion.

Once I was all strapped into the giant boots and dropped into the tepid waters, they had me try out standing up whilst holding a big metal pole which was fixed to the side of the boat (so you didn’t wobble about too much).  That seemed fairly straight forward, so it was then onto the rope.  It’s a bizarre feeling being stuck in the sea with your feet strapped to a massive board which floats, so you are sort of bobbing on your back.  I must have looked a bit like a dead ant.  Anyhow, as the boat begins to move the rope loses its slack and you have to hold on to the handle for dear life.  You bring your knees right up to your chest and use the force of the board against the water to ease yourself up.

Well that, my friends, is easier said than done.  Enter the faceplant.  Exactly as it sounds.  You plant your face right into that water.  BANG.  Do it more than once if you feel like it.  Some people get a rush from that stinging slap to the cheek (not me).  Luckily I got to grips with the ‘stand-up’ fairly quickly, and that’s where the fun really started!  There’s no feeling quite like being dragged behind a boat by a rope and surfing the wake.  Bliss.  Until either:

1) You have been going for so long that your legs start to ache to the point where you want to get off, but you can’t

2) You lose concentration for a split second and come hurtling back to reality with a faceplant that is strong enough to give you a headache

3) You attempt a jump over the wake and stupidly look down before landing (you guessed it – back to earth with a faceplant)

Despite the inevitable falls, I loved every ride and had such good intentions to do more of it when I got back to the UK.  That holiday was over two years ago, and how many times have I been wakeboarding since?  The grand total of ZERO.

THIS MAKES NO SENSE.  Why, when I find something I love, do I not do more of it?  This is a serious life problem which I intend to address.  To my delight, I heard a few months back that a wakeboarding park was to open in Cardiff Bay, but this is yet to emerge.  The latest news is that it will be open March 2015.

In the meantime, Penarth Waterski and Wakeboard Club may be the solution.  I can’t see much from the website but watch this space.  I’ll be getting my little size fives into those gigantic boots again soon!  And fingers crossed I elude the dreaded faceplant.