Wagers With Wakeboarding - Where to Start, What to Wear and What to Expect
Wakeboarding, like other watersports, can be uncompromising.
Waves, wind, weather…all completely out of a human being’s control.
I think a statement which best epitomises the experience of learning to wakeboard is as follows: “Going with the flow means something new and unpredictable, but always be positive”
This year, I have decided to develop my wakeboarding skills, taking advantage of the lovely sunny weather and a wake-park which is quite nearby. I have enjoyed the sport, having learnt a couple of years ago, but decided to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the challenges which the sport offers. I have also found it to be a great way of increasing my strength and stamina, key qualities which have found to be essential when competing in dinghy racing and training out on the water.
Just like sailing, wakeboarding is a sport which requires mental perseverance, dedication and a keen sense of ambition. Just like sailing, wakeboarding is a sport which can change at any moment, depending on any number of factors such as weather, wind, and personal fatigue. Someone once said: “Sometimes in the waves of change we find our true direction” and I think this is very pertinent when you learn the sport. You have to accept that it will
take time and effort to be able to adapt yourself and your riding to whatever situation you find yourself in. The day may begin sunny and warm with a gentle breeze, and may end with a rain or thunder storm with waves and less visibility. Sometimes, you have to accept that the conditions are not manageable and are beyond your ability.
Furthermore, just like sailing, wakeboarding is a great sport in that it enables you to travel around and see different places, spending time with friends and family. Whether you are behind a boat where there can be encouragement and guidance from loved ones who are sitting in the boat, or you are on a cable where there can be encouragement and guidance given from the shore, there are multiple opportunities to share great memories and have a laugh when you (at some point, probably inevitably, especially if you are a beginner) fall
into the water.
Wakeboarding brings you closer to the water in so many ways, and often literally, but it is a great way to connect with nature and the elements. I have found that wakeboarding has taught me a lot about flowing rather than rushing, taking time to feel the contact between the board and the water, and relaxing on the cable or rope behind the boat. A quote from ancient Chinese text Zhuangzi says: “Do not struggle. Go with the flow of things, and you will find yourself at one with the mysterious unity of the Universe”, and I have found this
concept of unity to be very helpful, especially when learning how to ride and land obstacles on cable. If I think too much about what I am going to do, I have found that on regular occasions, the body simply moves the board and I completely miss the obstacle altogether.
This was a very interesting experience when it first happened, but one which demonstrated to me how much power your body does have. Often I find it best to let go of thoughts and worries about riding, and simply trust my instincts. Wakeboarding is a sport which has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone many times, and still continues to, which I have found to be a useful challenge in daily life. I take a moment to consider what author Roy T Bennett once said: “It’s only after you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow and transform”. I agree wholeheartedly with these words, as your thoughts
whilst out on the water quickly demonstrate your mindset. If I’m not concentrating or focused, it’s more likely that I will end up forgetting to keep looking ahead, or catch my toe-edge whilst riding…wakeboarding is a sport which demands single-mindedness and it is ruthless until you find that inner stillness and calm.
As with any watersport, being prepared for the weather and general conditions is essential, especially as you are regularly and often abruptly submerged into the water, particularly when you are a beginner. I find that the Rash Top paired with the 1.5mm Top and Longjohn are necessary, as well as the Wet Socks, and are very comfortable products when you are riding. When the weather conditions start getting colder, the Supertherm Longjohn set is
really useful as the 8mm of warmth sits around the middle of your body, and is comforting when you are dunked in and out of the water during the wintry months. During those wintry months - wakeboarding sometimes with two wetsuits and thick gloves - there is often a completely different level of exhilaration experienced…I will never forget wakeboarding through a snow blizzard…and it gives you extra encouragement to practise your balance, given the inevitable water temperature…and it gives you increased respect and enjoyment for the summer months when the cold water is less of a shock…
As I’m sure many people would agree, wakeboarding is worth the wager.