Anchored off Sag Harbour in New York, the end of a two week charter called for some chilled out celebrations. After kicking back on the swim platform with beers and wine, my Aussie deckhand Ryan rounded up the troops for a wake-boarding mission. I said I was keen but was already laughing as I was expecting to be a complete spaz. However, being the good coach he is, Ryan strapped my feet into the board boots and showed me the basics of wake-boarding on the deck before attempting it in the water.
Tip #1: Keep your knees bent, angle your board slightly towards the boat in front of you and keep your arms and back straight. Let the water pull you up!
At this stage, I was nervously giggling even more as I have always had a tiny bit of a complex about water-skiing and wake-boarding being a useless child participant on weekends away with friends. However, my #winning attitude urged me to overcome this silly apprehension.
Once the wind had died down, we set out on the tender with coach Ryan and Kiwi first mate, Steve, to give wake-boarding a go. Ryan went first and is clearly a pro doing jumps, 360 degree turns and more clearly wow-ing any nearby spectators. However, the threat of rain meant that time was limited and it was my turn.
After a quick pep-talk from Ryan and Steve, I bent my knees up to my chest, lent back and held my arms up straight. Driver Steve signals to me to ask if I am OK and ready. I nod, unsure. The surge of water pulls me up but I feel like the water is digging the bored deep under. This made me release the handle-bar. Take 1…. (Lovely gents reassure me that most people take many tries to get up standing)… I can do this!
Tip #2: Lean back and look at the sky while bending knees and holding arms straight. If and when you do get up, keep your knees bent until you are steady and then fully extend your legs.
OK, knees bent, back straight, board angled a bit towards boat, look at sky and go…. The water surges over the board but I lean back and slowly rise through the water…I’m standing…with bent legs but I’m standing! I steady myself and extend my legs and go for a few seconds before losing my balance and wipe out. Great success – on my second try!
After numerous back flops, wipe-outs, nose enemas and laughs I slowly started to get the hang of it with further guidance from my coaches. Wake-boarding is too much fun!
Tip#3: Put your weight on your back leg/ foot and hold the handle bar with one hand. Think of surfing or skating (yes surfers and skaters have an advantage at wake-boarding…that’s why yachties love it!)
As the sun started to set and the wind picked up, I climbed into the tender and passed on the life vest and board to Steve. As a surfer, Steve put my 30 second stints to shame and could wake-board with ease while throwing in a few tricks for minutes on end – an eternity in wake-boarding time.
It was so good to be outside in the water instead of the yacht’s interior catching glimses of the outside scenery. Thank you coaches, Ryan and Steve, for teaching me to wake-board. Hopefully over the next few months in between charters, I can practice my skills, stand up longer, maybe even learn some tricks and master the art of wake-boarding!