Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Young and the Wakeless

Wakeless wakeboarding.  That's right boys and girls it does exist, and it's not easy either.  My screaming arm and stomach muscles can attest to that.
    I will admit, wakeboarding isn't typically something I would look into.  I've had many unsuccessful attempts at it in the past, but the part of my mind that advises "take every opportunity you get or you'll regret it later" won out when a group from GES decided to go to the wake boarding park on monday.

Wakeboarding here in Thailand is a little different than wakboarding elsewhere.  While I've heard there are places where you can wakeboard behind a boat (for a steep price), most people go to wakeboard parks where, instead of being pulled by a boat you are pulled by a cable, and, instead of a wake there are several jumps for those with enough skills to do tricks.  I am not one of those people.

As we approached the park I was a little apprehensive.  Not only because I wasn't confident in my wakeboarding skills, but more over because I didn't know what the water would be like.  Standing water in Thailand doesn't have the reputation of being the most pleasent, and I wasn't exactly extatic about getting mouthfulls of swamp water everytime I inevitibly wiped out.

My worries, however, were unwarrented.  The place (Thai Wake Park) was beautiful.  Large patios littered with chairs and tables sat on the edge of the lake where the water was light blue and very unswamplike.  It was a small lake, most likely manmade, in the middle of rice fields, with a small island in the middle, so the cable would take you around in a circle.

  When we first arrived I watched some of the boarders out in the water.  They made it look so easy!  Gliding over the water, hitting jumps and doing areals, and landing them no problem.  My goal for the day was just to stand up.  So, I paid for my 2 hours, strapped on a life vest and a helmet and chose my wakboard.  There were two ways you could choose to get into the water.  Most good wakeboarders would sit lakeside on a bench, clutching their rope, then when an empty hook would come along it would grab the rope and they would hop into the water and take off.  The other way to get into the water was by perching on a small dock covered in a "carpet" that closely resembled the teeth of a sperm whale.  That is if the teeth of a sperm what were green and red.  Anyway, the man would hand you the line, you would crouch down, lean back, and clutch the line as close to your body as you could.   Then, God willing, when the line yanked you would slip onto the surface of the water and glide along.  Most of us when the line yanked we got pulled toward the water, immediately catch an edge, and took a nose dive.  After about my 20th try I finally figured out that if I started from a sitting position I could actually get pretty far and...STAND UP!  But this only meant that I when I wiped out I was now 50 feet farther from shore and now had to swim twice as far.  By the end of my two hours I hadn't made it around the lake, I hadn't even made it to the first set of jumps (which had I reached I would have gone between NOT over), but I had stood up.  Mission accomplished.  I'm a little sad I didn't find this place until my last couple weeks in Thailand.  I think I could have had a lot of fun there and maybe even become good at wakeboarding!  Oh well, another time, another place.

Here are some pics of me doing what I did best, and then finally, sort of making it.

And some pics of Craig doing a much better job

Maybe I'll give it a go behind a boat again this summer....

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