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iKitesurf Newsletter - September 2014

1.) Like iKitesurf on Facebook
2.) Read Brian Wheeler's article on cable parks, below.
3.) Go Riding!

Kiteboarding’s Endless Summer: The Cable Park Craze

by Brian Wheeler


 
Unless you have an epic kite vacation planned this fall, or you live in Florida, Texas, Australia, or other parts of the world where the windy season is just beginning, you’re probably a bit depressed that the summer season is ending. Don’t fret though, I bear great news: you don’t need a kite to ride. That’s right — no need for wind to get your kiteboarding fix.
           
All it takes is a visit to your local cable park, where you can get your shred on, and learn to ride with style in a perfect environment — free of the fluctuating and often manic variables of our beloved sport. Even if you are still riding this time of the year, cable wakeboarding is the ultimate crossover sport. So much so that many of the world’s best wakestyle riders are absolutely enthralled with cable parks, and they wouldn’t be as good as they are without training at cable parks.
 
Imagine the feel of a perfectly stable kite, pinned at a constant angle, with the wind and water perfectly smooth and consistent. It might sound like a far-out dream, but it’s the everyday reality of cable wakeboarding. What better way to progress and ride with your friends than via the perfect pull of such a setup?
 
“What is a cable park?” you might wonder. Picture this: A revolving chairlift in the middle of a private lake, where instead of a chair attached to the cable, a rope and handle reach down to the water. As you ride around the cable’s circuit, each corner offers an opportunity to edge against the cable and boost wakestyle tricks — just like if you were edging and popping behind a kite. Plus, along most of the straightaways, you’ll find rails and kickers to do tricks on. Simply put, cable parks are an optimal, empowering and exhilarating training ground, a watersports heaven of mesmerizing perfection.
 
Just as you fell in love with kiteboarding at first sight (or try), I suspect you will fall madly in love with cable wakeboarding too. It happened to me back in 2008 when I was Managing Editor at Kiteboarding magazine, and lived in Orlando, Florida. Frequenting the Orlando Watersports Complex (OWC) and other parks throughout the state, I discovered this solution to never getting skunked again, which also tremendously enhanced my kiteboarding performance.
 
Now that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find me up at Velocity Island Park (VelocityIslandPark.com) two to three days a week. It’s hard to turn away from guaranteed epic conditions just an hour and 10 minutes away. Given that Velocity Island spins clockwise, is super high, and features arguably the best set of obstacles of any park in North America, I have a hard time deciding whether to shred at my favorite cable park on the planet, or roll the dice for an potentially epic kiteboarding session.
Unlike traditional wakeboarding — which requires an expensive boat that can burn up to 15 gallons of gasoline per hour per person — cable parks utilize the world’s greenest and most efficient wakeboarding technology. Emitting zero pollution, a full-sized cable system can tow hundreds of people per hour, and operates on less than $30 of electricity per day.
 
Consisting of a thin cable suspended by five or six 30- to 40-foot-tall towers, full-sized cable parks spin overhead at about 20 miles per hour, delivering an ultra smooth pull around a lake. Similar to a ski resort, participants purchase an hourly, daylong or season pass and eagerly wait in line on the start dock, where a cable operator manages the detachable ropes/handles that affix overhead.
 
There’s another flavor of cable as well: the two-tower, which is designed for one rider at a time and goes straight back and forth. These systems will rapidly get first-time riders comfortable on a board, and are also a great avenue for honing advanced kiteboarding skills. (See end of article for a directory of all the two-tower System 2.0 cable parks throughout North America, in addition to a list of my favorite mind-blowing full-sized parks.)
 
Featuring several jumps and rails, cable parks generally resemble an Olympic snowboarding slopestyle course, where you can jump, spin and flip off of the floating obstacles, or even boost big air from the flat water. And if you don’t want to get all extreme, by no means must you. There is plenty of fun and progression to be had simply from cruising around the park.
 
These eco-friendly watersports utopias are the perfect place where you can learn it all, from riding basics to kiteboarding’s most coveted wakestyle secrets. Beginner and intermediate riders can work on water starts, edge control, toeside and heelside turns, transitions, loading and popping off the water (similar to jumping unhooked), riding switch, grabs and the basics of riding sliders and kickers. Advanced and pro riders can add to their wake-style repertoire with raleys, spins, rolls, flips, landing blind and mobes (inverts with a 360-plus degree rotation) — and the sky’s the limit when it comes to hitting kickers and slaying rails.
 
Now days, many of kiteboarding’s top riders are stoked when there’s no wind, cause it means a trip to the cable, where they can get a riding fix and vastly improve their kiteboarding skills. For example, you might come across Aaron Hadlow, Billy Parker, Brandon Scheid, Sam Light, Eric Rienstra, James Boulding, Tobias Holter, Craig Cunningham, Rick Jensen, Sam Mydesky, Andre Phillip, Jake Kelsick, Alex Fox, Davey Blair, Greg Norman Jr., Colleen Carroll, Claire Lutz and countless other world-class riders. In fact, you might even run into iKitesurf.com / WeatherFlow CIO, David St. John, should you visit OWC.
When you go to a cable park, leave your harness at home and expect a workout, because it requires saying goodbye to the luxurious leverage of a harness. But you don’t have to leave all your kiteboarding gear behind. Feel free to ride your kiteboard the first time or two, or if you plan on hitting obstacles, consider upgrading to a slider-friendly rental wakeboard decked out with boots. The comfort, support, and security of the boots, plus the increased rocker and slider-friendly base of the board will make riding a lot easier and more fun.
 
Now that cable parks are popping up all over the world, there’s probably one close to you. And if not, chances are there will soon be one or two in your backyard. In the USA, you can find cable parks in nearly 20 states today, and that list is rapidly expanding.
 
To give you some perspective of how many parks we might see in North America the next few years: Germany has upwards of 70 cable parks, and it is about 10,000 square miles smaller than the state of Montana.  Potentially, we may one day see hundreds of cable parks throughout North America. But until then, you’ll have to enjoy what we’ve got. Following is a list of some of my favorite full-sized parks across the United States, but do your own research, as there are many more parks in addition to these and plenty others under development. And at the bottom of my list below, don’t miss Sesitec’s great website to locate dozens of 2-tower cable parks.

CALIFORNIA
Woodland  — Velocity Island Park: VelocityIslandPark.com
 
FLORIDA
Deerfield Beach — Ski Rixen: SkiRixenUSA.com
Fort Myers — Revolution Cable Park: RevolutionCable.com
Miami — Miami Watersports Complex: AktionParks.com
Orlando — Orlando Watersports Complex: AktionParks.com
Tampa — McCormick’s Cable Park: SkiMcCormick.com
 
GEORGIA
Cartersville — Terminus Wake Park: TerminusWakePark.com
 
KANSAS
Paola — KC Watersports: KCwatersports.com
 
LOUSIANA
Lafayette — Cajun X Cables: CajunXcables.com
 
NORTH CAROLINA
Benson — Hexagon Wake Park: HexagonCablePark.com
 
OHIO
Cincinnati — Wake Nation Cincinnati: WakeNation.com
 
OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma City — Wake Zone: WakeZone.co
 
TEXAS
Allen — Hydrous @ Allen Station: HydrousWakeParks.com
Austin — Vision Quest ATX: QuestATX.com
Fort Worth — Cowtown Wakepark: CowtownWakepark.com
Fort Worth — Wakesport Ranch: WakeSportRanch.com
Houston — Wake Nation Houston: WakeNation.com
Little Elm — Hydrous @ Lake Lewisville: HydrousWakeParks.com
New Braunfels — Texas Ski Ranch: TexasSkiRanch.com
Waco — BSR Cable Park: BSRcablePark.com
 
WASHINGTON
Bow Lake (near Bellingham) — Permacation Cable Park (2-tower only)
 
To locate your nearest two-tower System 2.0 cable park visit: System2Parks.com/Parks
 
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