Wakeboarding is a sport in which a rider is pulled behind either a boat or cable tow system. At a cable park, riders are pulled around a lake by an overhead cable system, allowing them to perform tricks and jumps without the need for a boat.
If you're new to wakeboarding, getting up on the board can be a daunting task. But with the right equipment and technique, it's easier than you might think. In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to about wakeboarding at a cable park.
In this article we are going to be talking you through some of the main things you are going to want to know about before you hop on the board for the first time. First thing is first we're going to want to find a cable park. A simple "wakeboarding near me" google search should do the job to help you locate your nearest wake park facility.
With new cable parks popping up all over the world there are plenty of different options when it comes to finding a cable to ride. The beauty of cable wakeboarding lies in the fact that every cable system is unique. Due to many different factors your experience can vary depending on the following:
The cable system itself plays a huge part in your riding experience.
The 3 kinds of main cable systems you will find are: Rixen, Sesitec and Wakeparx. The mechanics of how these cables work differs from each brand, but the functionality is exactly the same. The average height of these cables can vary from around 8m to 12m. For beginner wakeboarders a higher cable is usually easier to start on. This is because you will be pulled from higher therefore meaning there is less weight directly on top of the board making it feel a little more "floaty".
Some parks are also bigger than others (try not to fall on the far side!)
Some of our favourite cable parks
Cables can have different numbers of corners which can play a big part on your riding experience.
As wakeparks have progressed we have seen an increase in the number of corners they have, with some parks having as many as 7 or even 8 corners. As a first time wakeboarder, a cable with more corners will be a little bit easier to start on. In order to make a full circle sum of all the corners must add to 360º.
4 corners = 90º turns
8 corners = 45º turns
By having a smaller turning angle means that you don't need to get as wide out to the corner in order to maintain tension in the rope. Learn how to nail corners every time here.
Rail brands such as UNIT are making big moves in cable wakeboarding creating fun, unique featured for all levels of riders.
Some of these can seem intimidating at first, but once you know how to nail the basic kinds of features the same technique can be applied to many of these larger features.
If you are looking at hitting your first features some of the basic ones we would suggest are:
Rail / Flat Bar
The key with all features is to make sure to stay low, avoid pulling the handle and to have equal weight distribution on both legs. It may take a few tries but once you have mastered these the cable wakeboarding world really is your oyster!
Wakeboarding will always be more fun with friends! Take some time to meet the people around your park and shred together!
Progress can be difficult on your own, but riding and trying new tricks with other people can make your learning experience much more fun!
We are always blown away by some of the people we meet at parks around the world. The wakeboard community is awesome! Fun games to try with friends at the cable park
Park rentals are great to learn on, but as your riding progresses you are going to want to get your own setup to really get to know your gear.
PRO TIP: Expensive does not always mean it is the best for you.
When choosing your first wakeboard it is important to understand which board is right for you. Again there are many factors which influence how a board rides on the water and rails so we will break them down for you here:
Often overlooked, the base of the board can play a huge role on your wakeboarding experience. It can be hard to believe but few millimetre channels on the underside of the board can either make or break you as an entry level rider. When selecting a board we would always recommend to go for one with some mid body channels to really help you find your edge. If you it feels like you are "slipping" on the surface of the water, you might find it helpful to try a board with more channels, or you can learn how to edge correctly.
The flex of your board really depends on rider preference. A stiffer board will feel more solid on big landings from the kickers and will also hold strong when edging in the water and releasing for air tricks. A flexier (softer) board will allow you to really lean over the nose and tail on the rails when doing presses.
Rocker & Shape
The rocker of the board is basically how "bent" your board is throughout the mid section. An aggressive (bigger) rocker makes the board sit a lot deeper in the water but can also feel like the board is dragging. A mellow rocker obviously makes the board sit higher on the water and will feel much faster.
The shape of the board varies between brands as each company will manufacture boards differently. The best way to find a shape you like is to get down to a demo day around some cable parks and try as many as you can.
(When testing a new board, make sure to try it with your current bindings. Brand new bindings make any board feel strange at first!)
Bindings are the boots which attach your feet to the board. With many different types of bindings it can be difficult to decide which ones are best. The traditional boot was created during the early phases of wakeboarding, and is a complete boot. Great for comfort & control but can leave you with sore feet from walking barefoot back to the dock. In more recent times we've seen the development of "system" boots and walkable liners technology which means you are able to leave your feet in the boot when walking back and attach to the board when you get back to the dock. These are great for cable parks which have some more rough terrain!
As previously mentioned, brand new bindings are incredibly stiff at first and may even give you some intense foot cramps, but after a few rides they will really soften up making for a much more enjoyable ride.
Safety is no joke, and although it is only water it can still hurt really bad. Like really bad...
A good impact vest and helmet can really save your life. Make sure to get an impact vest which is quite tight to allow for some stretching over time, and make sure your helmet isn't always going to droop down over your eyes. Both must be a nice and snug fit.
At first it can be a bit overwhelming showing up to a park and seeing other riders pulling off crazy tricks! Remember that everybody has to start somewhere! Whether you are learning to get off the dock, or going for big tricks, remember that progression will only
come by consistently pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Seek discomfort and try the tricks which don't feel "nice" and practice them until they do!
Learn how to overcome fear
RUN BEFORE YOU CAN WALK
It's also important to learn to run before you can walk. Often we see riders who want to progress the big tricks they can do, yet are unable to perform the basic skills required to do so. Knowing what to learn and in what order will save you a lot of time in the long run. By locking in the key foundation skills you set yourself up to really take your wakeboarding in whatever direction you want!
There is no better way to reinforce your own knowledge of something than teaching it to others but remember there is no "perfect" way to do tricks, and sometimes each riders experience with these tricks can vary. When advising in the park come into it with an open mind, who knows you might also find a new, easier way of doing something.
JOIN A CAMP
With the help of a pro coach you can shortcut your learning by having a hands on learning experience. Coaches are able to save you the time and energy consuming trial and error method of learning. They are able to quickly and easily diagnose any problems you are having in all areas of your riding and work with you to correct them.
We hope you've found this article helpful! We are not sure where our lives would have ended up without cable wakeboarding and we are beyond grateful that we are able to pass on our knowledge we have acquired over the years of doing this incredible sport. Get out there, keep pushing and you will be riding like a pro in no time!