One of the reasons that kitesurfing is such an amazing sport is the skills it gives you which then cross over into other sports. Allowing you to easily pick up other sports with no real extra training needed.
In this article we take a look at one of the most popular of these sports – Wakeboarding.
If you can kitesurf it almost goes without saying that you can wakeboard as the skill sets are as near as damn it….the same. In fact at our kitesurf school we often encourage people struggling with their board skills in kitesurfing to have a go at wake boarding as it allows them to get to grips with the board in a much more controlled environment.
Typically we’ve found that wake boarders learn to kitesurf 3-4 days faster than everyone else because as soon as they can handle the kite, using the board is instinctive. That said, it’s not only beginners that can benefit from time spent wake boarding, riders of all levels use wake boarding to improve their skills and nail that latest trick when the wind isn’t blowing.
As an excuse to get up close and personal with the thrills offered by wake boarding (and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it was a girls only camp!) we caught up with the Hula Girls at one of their wakeboard camps to see what it’s all about.
What Is Wakeboarding?
Wakeboarding is a bit like water skiing but instead of being on ski’s you ride a board, (wake boards are very similar to kite boards). You can do it either behind a boat or at a cable park, which is basically a huge horizontal cable car style pulley suspended over a lake with lines and handles dangling from it which you use to pull yourself round.
Flat water is preferred which makes it the perfect no wind alternative for us kite surfers.
The Hula Girls
The Hula Girls wake camp is now in its fifth year. Run by a group of girls excited about wakeboarding who want to share their favourite hobby with other girls in what is still a male dominated discipline.
The idea is to get together girls interested in sports like wakeboarding and wakeskating, to learn together with other girls, have fun and be safe in an environment removed from the macho showboating and high levels of competition often associated with these type of sports.
It’s about getting more girls involved in these sort of activities, and showing them that just because a sport is labelled an extreme sport there’s no reason why girls can’t enjoy it just as much as the men (and often kick the mens backsides in the process…I speak from bitter experience!).
This year the event was held at a cable park by the Terlicko dam, in the north-east of the Czech Republic. Due to the massive demand the Hula Girls now run several of these camps a year…all sell outs. The camp itself is a 3 day gathering, full of action: wakeboarding, wakeskating, landboarding, slack line walking, indo-boarding and of course partying!
The girls are mostly beginners but intermediates and advanced riders are welcome and regardless of their actual level the girls all help each other learn in a fun, relaxed environment. A visit by some local pro’s on the Saturday added some extra “wow” factor and gave the girls an idea of just what was possible, the pro’s then got involved helping the girls perfect their techniques (both wake boarding and later on the dance floor!).
All the girls left having had not only an incredible amount of fun but also having gained new skills and taken a peek into the wider world of extreme sports, which is of course what it’s all about.
What struck us most about the camp and wakeboarding in general was the level of progression the girls were getting in such a short time, by the second day many of the girls, who’d never boarded before, were not only up and riding but riding in switch or even attempting their first jumps off the kicker. Compare this with the time spent learning to waterstart and ride those first few metres while kitesurfing and the instant appeal is obvious.
For many of the girls the trickiest part was actually getting going, the waterstart is pretty difficult and this stage often resulted in quite a few face plants. Interestingly the few girls who had kitesurfed before had absolutely no problems at this stage as the waterstart in both sports is pretty much the same.
Once the girls were going however, they were happily spending several hours a day cruising around the lake improving their board skills…this sort of intense, concentrated practice meant skills improved fast. All these skills are 100% transferrable back into kitesurfing so you can start to see why this such a good sport to get into for us kite surfers.
As a final caveat, wake boarding is best done on flat..ie windless, days it means you’ve finally got something to do on those no wind days that can still go towards improving your kitesurfing…which means one less excuse to go the pub…Oh…did I really just say that?