The 1st annual Pass the Handle — Discover Water Sports Day will take place at a lake near you on July 26, 2014. This is an incredible awareness-driven concept drawn up by legendary wakeboarders Shaun Murray and Zane Schwenk, encompassing any towed-water-sport enthusiast to get out on the water and extend their passionate arm to people in need of an awesome activity.
The concept is simple: Find a buddy or buddies who don’t already take advantage of the amazing sports included under the towed-water-sports umbrella, and get them on the water. Take them out, teach them how to ride, and introduce them to the same fun lifestyle of being on the water that we enjoy. Our goal is to truly engage those already involved to “share the stoke” and teach as many people as they can to ride.
We would like this initiative to focus on safe towed water sports, and to eventually create a reward-based program to encourage those who are hyper enthused to help expand the sport by incentivizing them to teach more and more new riders. Although this is the first year of Pass the Handle, we expect this concept to grow legs and become the day that we can reach the masses, expand our user base, and get the general public more engaged in watersports.
When: July 26
How: Ride anything on the water
Remember the ol’ Sfumato days when wakeskating was predominately done behind a boat? With the development of wakeskating and the increasing overall technicality of tricks being thrown everyday, it’s obvious why riders are choosing to take a different approach to riding. And, of course, we having to drain your pockets to pay for filling up your boat is another obvious reason. But, is riding behind a boat becoming a thing of the past for new, up-and-coming wakeskaters?
I do not necessarily think so, however, the influences of wakeskating are definitely taking more of a turn towards winch, cable, and PWC; and have ben doing so for quite some time. Who can deny it, though? You can learn so much behind the ski, and at a faster pace; you can hit spots that are considered unthinkable with a winch; and cables are popping up all over the place. Getting out there behind the boat, unfortunately, seems as though it may become a lost art.
All the seasoned veterans of the sport no doubt have an insane bag of tricks wake-to-wake. We will never forget when Aaron Reed tossed that first wake-to-wake 3-Shuv, or when Stu Shin stuck that backside 360 Bigger Spin; so it’s crazy to see that riders are slowly pumping the breaks in terms of pushing the progression of boat riding?
For those that are questioning the title of this piece or are wondering how Darwinism ties into wakeskating, well, here goes: Darwinism is the theory of evolution through natural selection where one method of thriving pushes out another and becomes the dominant force in the world. I feel this is exactly what is happening with wakeskating today.
I think riders are putting a pause on pushing the envelope behind the boat with the increasing popularity of The Wakeskate Tour; which has taken a whole new approach to wakeskating – an approach that has pushed the sport into the right direction. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe the progression that comes from each stop is absolutely ridiculous and is definitely stepping over the boundaries of what anyone thought could be possible on a wakeskate. I feel as though everyone heavily involved with wakeskating is simply trying to adapt to an ever-changing riding environment where boat riding is just not within their best interests at the moment.
Majority of riders are more so focused on pushing their creativity down the array of rails, ledges, and drops that each stop of The Wakeskate Tour has to offer. Every stop is unique in itself, and it’s amazing to see how every athlete puts their own twist down each setup. Stop#2 of The Wakeskate Tour, The Texas Two-Step, truly showed where the progression of wakeskating has moved. That drop was mammoth, the rails were intimidating, and the tricks landed were ridiculous. Every rider killed it and it was awesome seeing how technical those guys got on such a beefy setup.
Aside from the contest scene, riding boat is nowhere out of the norm. There is nothing like breaking the fog off the water and getting in that 6 AM ride before work. I do not feel as though wakeskating behind the boat will ever disappear for good, but based on the current state of the sport it has no doubt slightly subsided. Back just a few years ago there used to be multiple new edits up online weekly from riders crushing it behind the boat, but now it seems like everything has shifted its gears to all winch, cable, or PWC. For good reasons, too – it’s the direction that everyone pushing wakeskating wants to take the progression of the sport.
All in all, wakeskating has evolved at a rapid pace over the past decade. From wood decks to compression molded skates, bi-levels, and concave wood skates; wakeskating seems as though it has found its niche. With the help of its core followers and the masterminds behind the scenes that make everything possible, wakeskating will certainly prevail through thick and thin. But, let’s not forget where the roots of all this ultimately are. So, with that being said, I’ll end this with one of my favorite clips from way back that inspired me to get out and wakeskate years ago and a shot clip of me riding behind our Nautique 210 Byerly Edition. Enjoy!
In my 12 years of wake i’ve seen some pretty gnarly injuries. I’m guessing 8 out of 10 of my closest friends have had a knee surgery or two…it sucks. Support is the one thing that you can always count on with your friends and family when it comes to these harsh times being on injury reserve. Well those pale in comparison to the news that we heard with Reed Hansen’s update last week on Matt Manzari. To add to such seriousness was when we heard the news yesterday about Brad Smeele and his horrific injury while riding. It’s not my place to get into the details, but it is my opinion that if you have the ability to help you should. Support these men in their time of need. Imagine if it was your brother, son, friend. United We Ride.
Cable parks are popping up everywhere these days and they are offering up a whole new way to ride for everyone…just one problem. You’ve never ridden at the cable before! No worries – I’ve got you covered before you take your first laps.
That’s what I was thinking when our local park (Terminus Wake Park) opened up here in Georgia earlier this spring. I’ve never ridden cable since the closest park was around 7 hours away. It’s not too easy to make a day trip for that.
Boat riding has been my forte ever since I started wakeboarding. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to see what it would take to emulate my favorite riders in all the free ride videos I would watch like 12 Honkies, Hype, Pointless, and several others I have stashed away in my collection where they were jibbing their faces off.
After my first visit to the park, I walked away with a quick “Top 5” list that all newbies to the cable should know before you get started. Here’s what you need to know:
1) The Proper Gear:
If you’re a wakeboarder, you’ll need a wakeboard setup with a “sintered” or “grind” base on the board. If you’re a wakeskater, same deal – you’ll need a wakeskate with a “sintered” or “grind” base, as well. Grind bases are made of a highly resilient material and are designed to take the beating that a cable park gives our boards.
Oh, yeah, take off any removable fins on your board, too. Parks require this before they let you hit the water.
Your choice of bindings need to be taken into consideration, as well. Here’s why:
I personally ride a set of 2012 Ronix Cell Boots (now known as the Ronix Code 55 bindings) where the boot is mounted directly to the board. After I take a spill, I have to pull my feet out of the bindings, swim to the shore, and walk barefoot back to the starting dock. If you aren’t into walking around barefoot like me, take a look at what Hyperlite or Slingshot has to offer!
Hyperlite has the System Boot and Binding setup where the boot and binding are actually two separate components – much like a snowboard boot and binding. You tighten down the straps to ride and release them to walk around like you’re wearing a normal pair of shoes.
Slingshot offers something similar to my boots, but feature a removable liner in their high-end boots (like the Shredtown Boot). Loosen up the outer laces and you can pull your foot out with the liner still on your foot to walk around in.
Any boot will do, to be honest, but having a boot or a liner to walk around in if the shore is rocky is an incredibly convenient feature.
Next you will need a helmet, something that will protect your dome while you get your shred on. This one is not optional; you’ve got to have one to ride. There are several companies that offer quality water helmets like Pro-tec, Shred Ready, Sandbox, and Bern. Just make sure you get your own or rent one at the park when you get there if you’re ballin’ on a budget.
Finally, you’ll need a life vest. Many cable parks require that you wear a U.S. Coast Guard Approved vest and do not allow competition-style non-Coast Guard approved vests. I strongly recommend checking the rules of the park before you head out. Better to be prepared than disappointed. Here is a good example of a USCGA Life Vest from Hyperlite to give an idea of what you’ll need.
If you don’t have a board, helmet, or a vest…don’t worry! Most parks have a grip of rental products you can try out before picking up your own gear. Once you’re hooked like I am, you’ll want to start piecing together your own proper setup and ditch those stinky rentals.
2) The Starting Dock:
This is where it all really starts! There are a couple of ways to get going once it’s your turn to get your feet wet.
The easiest way to start is to use the “slide in” method. Essentially, you put your gear on and hop your way to the starting line. Once your pulley comes around and the operator says “are you ready,” shift your weight back over your back foot and keep the handle tight to your back hip – then wait for the pulley to pull the slack out of the rope and slide you off the starting ramp. Leaning back helps keep the nose of your board up so you don’t dive the board underwater.
If the “slide in” method isn’t for you, try sitting on the edge of the starting dock. This is very similar to the position that you would start riding behind the boat in. Keep your elbows and knees slightly bent and then lean back to help make sure you keep the toe side edge of your board up and out of the water. Once the pulley gets you up to speed, point the nose of your board the direction you are riding and start having fun.
Now, here’s something to work up to: dock starting! You begin in a standing position on the “slide in” ramp or on the edge of the dock. Watch the pulley come around the starting dock and once the tension on the rope is taken out, hop up and into the water. With a little bit of practice, this is probably the most fun to way to enter the water but work your way up to this. Trust me.
Check out this guy’s epic dock start:
3) Follow the Cable (Don’t Get Slung!)
Congrats!! You have successfully made it off the starting dock!
Start by carving around on all the straightaways and making your way to the buoy markers around each turn.
These buoys are to help you know where to be when you come to a corner in the cable park. Depending on the angle of the corner, you’ll need to take a little precaution before you get into the turn…because I didn’t and I got SLUNG!
On a sharp corner in the park, it’s going to be best to make sure you look up and see the direction the cable is about to take you, and point your board that way as you enter the turn. Otherwise…get ready to hold on because you’re about to go for a ride.
After a lap or two, it all becomes second nature and you will be navigating the corners like a champ.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you ever get too much slack in the line based on the path you took into a turn, it’s best to let go of the rope. Otherwise, it’ll pull the handle out of your hands extremely hard once the slack tightens up, which is definitely something you’re going to want to avoid.
4) Build Up to Larger Features: Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
Start small. Work on the smaller features and then move up incrementally based on how comfortable you feel on each slider, rail, or kicker.
When you fall, just make sure to pop your head up and give a quick 360-degree survey for other riders headed in your direction and start paddling towards the shore.
Generally, just ride within your comfort zone and build up on everything you’re learning to get to that next feature. Also, a HUGE benefit of riding at a cable park is that there are TONS of riders with all different types of riding styles and skill levels that you can learn from.
Being able to watch how someone hits a certain rail or sets up for a kicker is such a powerful thing.
Everyone I ran into at the park was out there to have fun and progress – so don’t be afraid to ask for help. I did, and it totally paid off. I’ve already got my eye on the next transfer rail at our park!
5) Rinse ‘n’ Repeat: But Don’t Get Complacent
What I mean by “Rinse ‘n’ Repeat” is just get out there and ride!
The more time you spend at the cable park (or riding in general), the better you will become. Our sport requires practice and repetition to get tricks locked down, but don’t get complacent!
Find your lines within the park, but don’t go out there and do the same tricks every single time. Push yourself once you are ready to try a different press. Hell, try it switch!
Always turn one part of the day at the park into what I like to call a “progression session.” Expand your bag of tricks and make the most out of what the park has to offer you.
Well, there you have it!
There are my Top 5 Things a 1st Time Cable Rider needs to know before you head out there! Most importantly, have fun! Now that you’re ready to go, get your gear together and start hitting up a park near you! Maybe even plan a road trip to visit some parks with your buddies. Time to get to pressin’.