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Wakeboarding Is Not Just For Rich Kids Anymore
Want to go wakeboarding? Cool, hook the fifty thousand dollar boat to the F-350, fill up the gas tanks, dump it in the lake and go carve it up. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of laying down the edge of the board and tossing spray onto the lake. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a nice boat, nor the time to take care of everything else to organize a good wakeboarding session. Luckily, there is a revolution underway that is making wakeboarding accessible to everyone. There are now three new ways to ride without using a boat. Cable parks, winches, and kites not only made wakeboarding cheaper, but also opened up all kinds of new water terrain for people.
Cable parks came first. Using technology borrowed from ski resort chairlifts, cable parks use a tow rope running in a large circle around man-made lakes. For around fifty dollars, wakeboarders can purchase a pass, grab the rope as it passes, and get towed around the lake. Cable parks are opening up all over the country, many with multiple lakes for riders of different skill levels or styles. Man-made lakes are designed to maintain the perfect depth and are excellent for placing obstacles such as sliders and kickers on which riders can put their skills to the test. Cable parks are also a great place to host wakeboarding competitions, and many professional riders spend the majority of their time honing their skills on the cables.
Winches are another great solution for getting out on the water and rolling. The size of a suitcase, and available for much less than the cost of a boat, around $1500, a winch can be installed in all sorts of places from small ponds, between docks, along canals and even streams, rivers and the ocean beach! Winches provide riders with a straight line travel of around five to six hundred feet, and sometimes more. Many wakeboarders use winches to pull them through rail parks or across a single body of water, as they are limited to doing one stroke at a time and in a more or less straight line. Winches simply require one friend to operate while the other rides, a few gallons of gas for an entire day, and can be easily transported from place to place.
Kites are probably the coolest and most amazing new source of traction for wakeboarders. Kitesurfing has recently developed over the past few years into a giant water sport in its own right, and for many wakeboarders, being pulled by the kite gives them the ultimate freedom to ride entirely on their own, in n any direction they feel like going, and through all kinds of water, from choppy lakes to buttery smooth glass, from ocean waves to water inches deep at which they don’t could never gain access when pulled by a boat. The best part for many riders is that there are no turns when riding behind a kite, and you can stay out and ride as long as you want, at least until the wind drops. The kiteboarding kites are packed into the size of a backpack when not in use, weigh only a few pounds in total, can be set up, launched and landed unaided, and once in the air they are capable of firing jumpers in almost any direction, including upwards. High performance kites pull as hard as a wakeboard boat, are directed by the rider to pull left or right, or up, allowing wakeboarders to soar 40 feet in the air or more. The rider can also control the amount of wind the kite catches, to create more or less kite traction while riding. If the kite crashes into the water, that’s okay, they’re designed to relaunch themselves, and many of them do that very easily. Although it is a little more complicated than other types of wakeboarding where riders simply stand and roll, kiteboarders must roll and drive at the same time, the freedom and rewards of wakeboarding behind the kite are unmatched in the sport. Although a kite setup with everything you need usually costs around $3000, once you have the equipment there are no other expenses, no gas, no money. maintenance or service, and no one else is obligated to drive or use the equipment.
Either way, wakeboarding is a ton of fun, and somehow it’s now accessible to the public and not just to kids whose parents have the house on the lake and the boat that costs as much as a university education.
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