Sunday, March 27, 2011

[PILI] Brown Water and the Basics of Wakeboarding

There is a beginner’s course located near the lake where all the pros are. That course is easy because it is just a mini lake where you get pulled by a cable from one side to the other. There is a queue on both sides and you will have to go back at the end of the line whether you successfully cross that lake or not. This is not a problem at all since one is expected to always do a dive of shame, especially those without prior experience. Ahem, me, ahem.

How does it work? The board has two straps where you securely place your feet, which is ideal for beginners. The boards that the pros use on the bigger lake have no straps on them. Those are just plain boards that magically stick to their feet with the help of some ancient African voodoo chant or a Wiccan spell that they just would not share with you. Anyway, you must assume a squatting position almost all the time to avoid converting the said sport into an impromptu diving meet. You do not stand with the board’s surface directly above the water. Believe me when I say that you are sure to sink and be a frontrunner for that diving gold medal if you do. You have to tilt it in a way that when the cable pulls you, enough tension would be built between board and water for you to effectively get dragged by the force without falling face first into the water.

What to do if you drink the water accidentally? Perhaps it wouldn't be that much of a health hazard. You are capable of shutting your mouth and spitting, right? Do not fret. The friendly instructors would uplift your spirits by narrating that even Kris Aquino drank plenty of that brown water when she was in town. See! Don’t be so arte na and just let the cable make you tangay! It’s like, so saya kaya. You know, fun!

Obviously, I fell on the first try and didn't even make it halfway. You are required to wear a life vest so no need to worry that you'd drown or anything. No sign of piranhas either when I was there. Perfectly safe! The second try was my blaze of glory. I was so awesome that I mastered the trick quick enough to get the hang of it! NYAHAHA. Or so I thought, until I went to the bigger lake. In fact, I took home the day’s gold medal for Diving. Take that!

The thing about the beginner course is that the cable pulls you gently, at least relative to the cables on the larger lake. When you make it all the way to the other side, there's a return trip where the cable yanks you hard while on a curve. This requires a special maneuver to avoid flying off your board. Flying + Diving = Fun! Well, I got that on the third try. I stood on my board like a star athlete striking a pose for Men’s Health (or lack thereof) as I approached the bank of the lake before the eventual sinking that couldn't be avoided upon exit. I walked away with my head held high, headed to the larger lake, and became the Diving superstar of the day.

If you thought you already got the hang of it, chances are, you really haven't. You can choose to rent special boards with actual boots on them. That way you would feel one with your board. Feeling one with your board isn't cool, if all you ever do is dive. You see, those boots are attached to your feet. When you fall or dive you'd want to separate yourself quickly from the board to immediately get out of the lake, lest you get run over by another wake boarder. The ones that are free are old boards with straps that no longer stick but still usable to some degree. Use those. They might look filthy to you but you wouldn't be minding that more than you would your dignity after a few embarrassing dives.

There is a station where members of the staff control the hooks and cables. They holler at you to prepare once your hook is ready. There is a makeshift bench made of wood by the water where beginners sit with their boards already attached to their feet. The one nearest to the staff room gets to go first. By the way, there's a space between that long improvised bench and the stall where the members of the staff control your fate. Its flooring is made of a material that looks like black plastic grass. That is where the pros take off, most of them standing, some of them jumping. Yes, they hold the board with one hand and the cable handle with another, and then they get yanked hard so they fly, hurl their boards to the air, and land on it on the water. Where the F did they learn how to do that? Coolness.

That plastic grass area is also where knee-boarders take off. What is knee-boarding? You have a board but instead of squatting on it, you kneel on it. You kneel. You bring your ass all the way down and have it settle on the heels of your feet. You bring your chest as close as possible to your legs. Your legs are strapped to the board, by the way. This is easier because you don't have to worry about maintaining your balance. Once you take off successfully you just have to maintain that position in order to finish the track. It's obviously easier but requires a greater deal of flexibility.

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