So, in this recap, I’m not going to tell you who did what trick and who placed in which place, because quite frankly, I’m clueless. Wakeboarding is a whole new world to me, one I’m only just venturing in to. It’s like the start of snowboarding again, when people were telling me something is “sick” (are they poorly?), or they “ate shit” (one of your 5-a-day?), or they have just done a “chicken salad” (now I’m lost). 15 years on and I now feel like my snowboard knowledge has grown. However, at the start, I thought snowboarders were perhaps speaking Outer-Mongolian. Now, here I am, right back at the start of an exciting new sport/ subculture again. There are many crossovers with snowboarding yes, but there are also many MANY new and wonderful ways.

Pop Up Shop- The Board Basement

This is my recap from a very very novice (almost punter) point of view of the 2nd stop of the Southern Cable Series Wakeboard Tour at North Devon Wake Park. North Devon Wakepark is an awesome family run business. Sally and Jo are the owners and they have 4 KIDS!!!! Fair play. The whole family are awesome wakeboarders, sponsored up to the eyeballs. I guess you would be, having a wake park as your back garden?! But honestly, they are the most down to earth people I have met, so humble.

ARRIVAL

We rocked up at 9am at the park, with our 2 boys in tow (age 3 and 1). There were already lots of people there, setting up camp for the day with their trucks, vans and dogs- like a home-from-home for the day. They definitely looked like they did this a lot and knew what they were doing. There were lots of families, instantly I felt more at ease about having our 2 tag-a-longs. Everyone said hi to us as we arrived, making us feel welcome from the start. They helped us setting up the tent (Rich was officially working in the pop-up-shop for The Board Basement) and rescuing our kids from falling in the lake. People were chilling on the grass drinking tea and eating bacon sarnies and it was just a friendly relaxed vibe in general.

Once we had set up shop, I let my guard down ……. somehow, I got roped into actually entering the competition. Sally the owner can be very persuasive. In fact, it seemed she had convinced quite a few people to enter!!! I just thought “what the hell”, what better way to get to know the industry than become a pretend athlete for the day! Plus, it would give me a break from the kids. Cheers Rich.

PRACTICE

Katie getting ready to compete

So all 43 riders got ready for practice, once I had my wetsuit on, I felt there was no going back. My first competition of any sort since having kids…wtf was I doing??!

I would be entering the Rookie category. That was a really nice thing about the comp, there were so many different categories, anyone could enter. There was a little 6-year-old boy riding, right up to the top pros in the men’s open. So, you were judged at YOUR level.

There is a whole new set of rules and etiquette to learn…… Practice was for 3 hours. You had 4 laps (so 4 ups and downs on the 2-point cable). The next person has to be ready to go AS SOON as the first one has finished to make sure everyone gets lots of laps in. Once you’ve finished your laps, you get pulled back into the doc. This is something I also need to work on as at the moment, I look like a drowned hippo being dragged through a swamp. Getting your board off and back onto to doc also needs attention on my behalf!! How do the pros look so graceful?!

wakeboards in a que

When you’ve got out of the water, you have to put your board to the back of the queue. Then move all the other boards down and wait for your turn again. This in-between bit for me was about trying to keep warm with your wetsuit still on. There seemed to be different ways to do this but mainly dry ropes were worn. A lady was telling me they used to fill up bottles of hot water and tip them down their wetsuits. Another girl said they would stand in buckets of hot water to keep warm.

THE COMPETITION 

Once practice was over it was straight into the competition. I was near the start thankfully, as I thought I may have been sick over my wakeboard if I had had to wait too long to ride.

The rules were…….you had 2 laps back to back. One fall and you could carry on, two falls and you have to come back in. Then whatever order you placed after your first laps, you ran in reverse order for you next 2 laps. Your best “set” of laps counted. Points were given for difficulty of tricks, landings, style, hitting different features, different tricks, and hitting features toe side/ heel side/ switch etc. And handle passes? They seemed to be big on handle passes. So similar to snowboarding, you could be quite tactical with your runs. Having only got maybe 2 tricks in total, I was pretty limited!!! And I’m not that clever to play tactical. So, I just did what I could do, closed my eyes and hoped for the best.

Riders Meeting

They ran everyone on the Blue side first (small side). Then everyone on the Black side (big). Praise the lord I was on the blue side. There were some crazy tricks going down on both sides. The tricks that seemed to get the most cheers were definitely the inverts (like snowboarding they are crowd pleasers). Whirlybirds and Tantrums were the tricks I heard called out a lot with big cheers! I can tell you, I would love to Whirlybird!!!!

The category I enjoyed watching the most was probably the Vet. Womens. I’m always inspired by women riders anyway, and to watch these ladies slay was even more awesome. You have to be over 50 to be in the Vets. The ladies were throwing down. But they weren’t taking it seriously at all and just genuinely having a great time. The banter was on point. Most of them didn’t even do any of the warm up laps, just straight into their tricks, no messing around. I thought a lot of these ladies were just there to support their kids, little did I know that underneath those jeans and dry robes were wetsuits ready for action! So inspiring.

Rookie Category

THE FINALE

The competition drew to a close with the Open Men’s category. Goes without saying that the level was insane. However, even during this section I've still seemed chilled and more fun and banter than anything else.

Prize giving took place on the doc, lots of prices, lots of different categories. The nicest thing was that the owners Sally and Jo both won their categories (totally deserved), and then Harry, one of their sons, won the Open Men’s.

Sally Winning Veterans Category

The day was coming to an end, and I realised we had been there for 9 hours and it had whizzed by. The thing that struck me most about the day was how wakeboarding was a real family affair. Mum, Dad, kids can all enter the same event. You didn’t seem to be judged or discriminated against because of your age. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be an age limit at all, and some of the best riding I saw was from the over 50s! You almost seemed to be more respected if you were older?! Totally different to snowboarding as I had been lying about my age for many years! (shock, I’m not really 21). Everyone seemed super supportive of each other and one big team. Its all-inclusive, everyone talks to everyone no matter what your level. Not arrogance or hierarchy. The whole event had a chilled atmosphere and zero pressure.

I still have a lot to learn about wakeboarding (i.e.: what do you do when you need a wee in your wetsuit……take the whole thing off??), but it's so exciting stepping into this new sport. With no life span on wakeboarding, I feel like I have years ahead of me. I am already addicted and I CANNOT WAIT for my next fix.

Katie And Her Kids