|(video: Mario Tanooki)|
My 1st time Wakeboarding at the Republic Wake Park, Nuvali, Laguna
Wake-boarding is one of the things that I’ve always wanted to try out. It’s on my list of things-to-try before I get old. I’ve seen many professionals on TV gliding through the water and jumping through the air as they hold on to a rope pulled by a speed boat. They make it look easy and like it were child’s play. I always thought to myself ‘it couldn’t be that hard.’
Last weekend, a friend posted on Facebook that they were going and if anyone was interested to join them. Of course, I excitedly said yes! We met at Alabang and drove south on SLEX to Laguna. Made our way to the Sta Rosa Exit. Driving along Sta Rosa-Tagaytay road, we made a left to Nuvali Boulevard. You can’t miss it due to the big signage.
After a security check-point where we left an ID and +15 minutes of driving through the village we reached our destination. The Republic Wake Park.
Total travel time was about an hour and a half to two hours depending on the traffic. Travel times are generally longer on weekends.
We went through registration, signed the waiver, and paid for our riding pass. Riding rates are determined by how long you want to use the facility. There’s a 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, and 8hr pass. Arrogantly dismissing the feedback from friends that this activity is really tiring. We got the 8hr passes. Yikes!
Once everything’s settled and paid for you can borrow the some basic gear for wakeboarding. It’s inclusive of the riding pass. You just have to give a refundable deposit amount which serves as payment just in case their gear gets majorly damaged due to improper usage.
Dining / Lounge Area
There is a dining / lounge area where we ordered drinks, meriendas, and lunch from. The food and choices were okay. The food prices are similar to those here in the Metro Manila Area. This area is located right beside the wakeboarding area so we are treated to a view of professional wakeboarders doing stunts while have our lunch and merienda.
Small Swimming Pool
There is a small pool area for kids and those who just want to relax. The pool is about 4-feet deep and is flat – It does not get deeper at any point. The water is also a bit cold too – it’s not a heated pool. Perfect for relaxing quick dips after a long and tiring day of wakeboarding.
Wakeboarding Equipment Store
For those who are really getting into this sport, there is a merchandise store filled with more serious wakeboarding-related gear from helmets to boards and everything in between. You must really like, enjoy, and be into this sport before considering buying gear because the prices aren’t for the casual weekend-wakeboarder. Considering that this is my first time trying out wake boarding, the basic rental gear is more than adequate for my needs. Though we did see a lot of people, who look like frequent visitors of the wake park, bringing their own gear.
So here’s the basic gear:
Safety helmet with the ‘Republic’ sticker on the side. They have sizes for extra-small, small, medium, large, and extra-large. Mandatory safety precaution.
Life-vest with the ‘Republic’ logo. They also come in sizes. Mandatory safety precaution as well.
(Sorry, I can’t seem to find a picture of the actual knee-board that we used.)
Designed to be used with the rider kneeling down on the board strapped on to the legs/thighs via a large Velcro strap.
Based on my experience, this proved to be an easier to ride board to get you up and running through the course with lesser chance of losing balance and tipping over. More of a beginner’s board if you will.
Designed to be used with both the rider’s feet placed flat on the board’s surface on a feet-apart position for control over balance and maneuverability.
Based on my experience this board is harder to ride properly than the knee-board. Balance and control plays a bigger role here than with the knee-board.
Beginner’s Training Area
To ease the learning curve for beginners, amateurs, novices, and first-timers – that’s me. The park provides a basics learning course. The speed and force of the cable pulling here is slower and weaker. And there’s an instructor teaching you the basics, showing you the basic stance and telling you what to do every step of the way. Of course there’s only so much that the instructor can teach/show you. Everyone is different. Everyone learns how to maintain balance and control of the board and your body in a different way. Most of the learning will come through experience.
Having said that, during my first try at the beginner’s course, I made it almost half-way before falling down. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun! A bunch of tries later I was able to make it a cross and I have gained confidence in my newly-acquired skill to try the professional course.
P.S.: the line of people queuing for beginner’s course moves slowly. The course can only accommodate one wakeboarder at a given time, the speed at which the wakeboarders are pulled is slower, and the instructor gives instructions to the new-comers. In short, lining up at the beginner’s course will consume a considerable amount of time.
Professional Wakeboarder’s Course
Here it is! The professional course. The track riddled with ramps and obstacles. Professionals gliding through the water and flying through the air. The speed at which the cable is pulled here is at least doubled that of the beginner’s course. It certainly is intimidating especially for a first-timer like me.
With the advice of my friends I first tried the knee-board with this course. As I move closer in line for my turn my heart beats faster. Seeing other novices like, me wiping-out as soon as the rope their holding gets pulled, I became more nervous. Finally, it was my turn. I positioned the kneeboard at the designated ready position. I strapped my thighs with the Velcro strap and held on tight to the rope. Before I knew it the dispatcher yelled ‘ready’ and at a moment’s notice I was pulled into the course. The speed is a bit overwhelming for a beginner. The force pulling on the cable is straining on the arms and shoulders. But I held on. In my experience, there wasn’t very much need to balance the kneeboard unlike the wakeboard that’s why I made it through the whole course. I let go of the rope once I was already at the starting line because my arms and shoulders were already very tired. I made it! And for the 1st time too!
|(video: Mario Tanooki)|
I rested a bit and I tried the professional course once again with the kneeboard. Little did I know that this time was the last time that I could make it through the course for this visit. Having gained a little confidence and more arm and shoulders strain in the process on my first two successful runs I decided try the course on a wakeboard… And there it hit me. This was nothing like the beginners course where you’ll get pulled by a gradually speeding rope giving you ample time to balance your board and your body. No. Here once the dispatcher yells ‘ready’ in a moment’s notice you’ll get pulled fast by the rope. And try as I might, I just couldn’t get to make a successful run through the course let alone stand on the board. And I tried a gazillion times. Until such time that the sun was setting and I called it quits.
Even though I wasn’t able to ‘do’ wakeboarding on the professional course, I was happy. I got to accomplish a lot through my 1st time. I was able to finish the beginner’s course successfully and I was able to make it across the professional course on kneeboard. I won’t be crossing wakeboarding off my things-to-try list yet, not until I get to finish the professional course on a wakeboard for 10 times! Who knows, maybe by then, wakeboarding would have already grown on me and I might not cross it off the list at all. But one thing is for sure. I’m definitely coming back for more!
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