What is cable wakeboarding?
What is cable wakeboarding? (via cablewakeboard.com)
Cable wakeboarding is simply wakeboarding while being pulled not by a boat, but by an overhead cableski system. It’s definitely the coolest addition to the distinguished list of extreme sports throughout the world, because it combines the best of the extreme nature of wakeboarding without the need for (or expense of) a boat. Cable is an enormously valuable and important element of the entire sport of wakeboarding.
So how does it work? How do you ride without a boat?
Suspended in the air by a series of towers (or masts) surrounding a small lake, an overhead cable rotates in a (usually) counterclockwise motion around the lake. Along the cable are a number of carriers from which ski ropes will attach to and pull a rider or skier around the lake.
Why is it so popular?
What makes cable so cool? Basically, cable is ideal for riders who have limited or no access to a boat. It’s drastically less expensive compared to all the costs involved with boat wakeboarding, with a lot less hassle. Cableways are clean, efficient, quiet, and overall, very environmentally friendly. You can ride many more sets in a day than you ever could behind the boat. Riding on the cable actually helps your riding behind the boat. And it’s more forgiving on your body than boat wakeboarding. But the best part is, you can do every trick on the cable that can be done behind the boat, and more. And, thanks to all the above, it’s the perfect gateway for anyone who wants to get into the world of wakeboarding.
Let’s look at that again. No expensive boat, no gasoline, no maintenance, no air or water pollution, no traffic-clogged lake, no set up or cleanup necessary, less risk on your body, and you can still become one of the top wakeboarders in the world, all while having a great time with your friends. Nice concept, wouldn’t you think?
How can you call it cable wakeboarding when there is no wake?
You ride using a wakeboard. It’s that simple. It’s still wakeboarding because every single trick that has been, is now, or ever could be thrown behind a boat can and is being thrown on the cable. The tricks are identical. Boat or cable, the sport is still the same. It’s just a slightly different method to the same awesome madness.
How does it compare to riding behind the boat?
It’s a slightly different kind of pull. Since the angle of the rope is higher on the cable than behind the boat, you get more lift and, potentially, more hang time. This is one reason you see such awesome tricks like double S-bends on the cable, a rare occurrence if ever behind the boat.
Also, with the move and flex of the cable itself, you find it much less stiff and more forgiving. Therefore, learning new tricks comes much easier and faster. Difficult as it may be to believe, the simple fact is that virtually every trick that can be performed behind the boat can also be done on the cable. Period. Regular or switch, inside or out, you see plenty of spins, 313s, roll to blinds, KGB’s and every mobe or Raley trick you can think of. You name it, it’s been done on the cable, either in the flats or off the obstacles. Take your pick.
How do you start?
You queue up at the starting dock, rope in hand, with the other end of the rope queued up in the tower (mast) next to the cable, awaiting a carrier. As the carrier arrives, it hooks the rope and continues on its way, pulling you off the starting dock and out onto the water. Have fun!
What happens if you fall?
You simply swim to shore and walk back to the starting dock. The distance is short and time is minimal before you’re out on the water riding again.
How many people can ride at the same time?
Anywhere from six to twelve or more people, depending on the size of and the number of carriers on the particular cableway.
The beauty and value of cable is that it opens up wakeboarding to the everyone, thanks to the reduced costs of running and the higher number of people it’s possible to pull at any one time. With cable’s ability to tow many people at the same time, groups of people can be catered to much more easily than behind a boat.
Is it limited to wakeboarding only?
No. Even though wakeboarding clearly dominates the cable scene these days, you still occasionally see people on two skis, slaloming, or kneeboarding, though MUCH less often.
Though cableski facilities have now been around for over 40 years, an interesting shift in the cable world seems to have taken place over the last 10 years. Cableways were built primarily during the heyday of waterskiing, and have for the most part been primarily composed of three-event skiing, kneeboarding, and occasionally barefooting. In 2004, the World Cable Wakeboard Commission completed a survey of most all the cableways around the world to determine the average percentage of skiers versus wakeboarders observed at each facility. Incredibly, virtually 95% of all patrons at cable parks around the world were wakeboarders!
How do you do those “big air” tricks?
Unlike the boat, where you ride up the wake to get air, on the cable you lean back to set your edge and load the line to build up tension, then snap the board behind you to launch yourself into the air. Do it right and you’re launched like a sling shot! Once in the air, the entire menu of tricks is at your disposal. The adrenaline rush is awesome!
What about sliders and kickers?
Just as with boat wakeboarding, features are becoming an integral part of the sport, and are showing up everywhere. These days, sliders and kickers of almost every size and shape can be seen at most all cable parks around the world. Also, with sliders and kickers, the number of tricks you can do on the cable goes up exponentially. Not only can you do air tricks, but you can also throw every kind of spin or mobe imaginable.
What about wakeskating on the cable?
Cable is without a doubt a wakeskater’s dream! With all the obstacles available and the fact that you can fall a zillion times and get right back and keep riding all day long working on your shuvits, varials, spins, etc., it’s no wonder that we’re seeing wakeskaters now comprising almost 25-30% or more of all riders on the cable.
Are there a lot of riders crossing over between boat and cable?
Yes, there’s definitely a crossover. And there’s a real advantage to it, too. Tricks are the same on either, and cable is a terrific teaching tool. Cable definitely helps your boat riding and vice versa. It’s great cross-training. Mike Ferraro, one of the world’s top wakeboard and waterski coaches, regularly advises his students and elite athletes to cross-train on the cable whenever possible.