Two days ago I met Challenge #5 from my 30 Before 30 List… Waterskiing… or Wakeboarding to be more exact!
When I say I met the challenge… I introduced myself, I shook its hand, I gave it my best and I became very well acquainted with swimming in the lake!
The afternoon started with a safety tutorial and then instruction by the lake. I arrived to find that I was the only female on the introductory course that afternoon, but luckily our instructor was female so I didn’t feel so outnumbered. She was very patient and kind and didn’t treat me like the idiot I felt when I asked her to explain something for the third time! I listened and as per usual-me, asked lots of silly questions. I collected my kit, headed to the changing rooms and it was there I started to wonder what on earth I was doing with all these awesome fit sporty people?!
It was a really hot sunny day, about 26 degrees. I hadn’t fed the twins in a few hours so was feeling a little uncomfortable; but as well as being a lactating mummy, I was a mummy lactating ambition and felt quite exhilarated to be doing something so different, by myself. Jumping up and down in the changing rooms like a lunatic, I tried to shoehorn my postnatal ass into a wetsuit! Sincerely beginning to doubt my own size, I contemplated taking it back and asking for a Medium. Eventually however, I got my legs in. I ignored the straight-jacket feeling and put some conviction into getting my arms in. By time I got the whole thing on I felt slighty like someone had me in a chokehold! A wobbly helmet (due to my seemingly odd-shaped head) and a rib crushing life jacket later, I was ready to go!
I started off on a kneeboard. Having attempted this as a little girl, when I was about 12 years old, I knew that it required very strong arm muscles (which I don’t have), a sense of balance (which I don’t have) and a degree of co-ordination for steering (which I also don’t have). As a kid, I had 3 attempts:
Attempt 1: Didn’t make it off the starting ramp
Attempt 2: Made it to the first corner
Attempt 3: Got around the first corner, then fell off and had about a mile to walk back – by which point I was too tired to have another go!
I was hoping that as an adult I might have more strength and that carrying twins around may have pumped up my arm muscles a bit. I was however VERY nervous and adamant that I wouldn’t make it off the starting ramp.
I got on my board, got into the brace position, gritted my teeth, and most probably… shut my eyes! The next thing I knew, I felt an incredibly strong pull on my arms and then felt like I was flying. I opened my eyes and saw the lake flying past me at speed, but guess what… I was still on my kneeboard AND still holding onto the handle. WOW to me! Now breathe! After a few expletives, I gave myself a few seconds to breathe and slightly relax and then started planning ahead for the first corner; quickly wracking my brain to remember what they had told us in the tuition. I tensed my arms, leant forward and pulled the handle round to my left side. To my sheer amazement, the board did exactly what it was supposed to! I leant to the right and it turned smoothly towards the two buoys you have to ski between. The cable went slack for a few seconds, then picked up and I flew perfectly round the corner at speed. Corners two and three are almost instant after corner one and it felt like I picked up force and speed on both.
“I’m doing it I’m doing it! I actually made it round the first three corners!”. I know this seems petty to anyone who can actually wakeboard… let’s face it – I was on a kneeboard, there were teenagers doing backflips in the air behind me on their wakeboards; but to me this was exhilarating. The nearest I’d gotten to exhilaration recently was when the twins DIDN’T vomit up their milk all over my shoulder!
Corners four and five were harder, they were 90 degree angles (so I’m told) and I was sure I’d lost it on corner five. The line went slack, I started going around the corner but when it tightened it pulled so hard I came out of my brace position and my arms flew out straight in front of me. I clung on for dear life because I didn’t want to fall off right where the other learner wakeboarders were launching onto the cable. I’m not sure whether it left my mouth or was just in my head, but I heard a loud “F” followed by “UUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKK” come screaming out of me. Remarkably I somehow managed to stay on the board AND regain my position and composure. I couldn’t believe it. I had actually done a full lap on a kneeboard.
I followed it with a second lap…
…And a third!
You are supposed to let go just before the beach, after corner four on the third lap, however just before this corner, I started to panic that I hadn’t steered enough to make the marker buoys. I overcompensated my lean to the right and capsized straight into the lake. Gutted.
Oh well, I felt that I could still count it as 3 laps so it was time to get on a real wakeboard!
I got out of the water and walked back to the start for more training. My legs and arms felt like jelly and I was feeling a bit dehydrated so I took a twenty-minute break. Eventually I built up the courage to try an “easy start” wakeboard.
I found that there was SO much to remember:
Keep your knees soft,
Keep your board flat,
Balance your weight evenly on both feet,
Don’t lean back too far,
Don’t lean forward too far,
Don’t pull the cable in towards you,
Keep your arms slightly bent,
Move the handle round to your side once you are up,
Rock forward and Backwards on your toes to steer,
Use your core muscles to roll onto the board,
Don’t twist your body,
Make sure your feet are evenly balanced,
Watch the cable,
Look down the line,
Brace at the corners…
…There are probably many more that I can’t remember. The thing is… I AM good at multitasking! I can breastfeed twins, write a blog post, eat breakfast and watch TV all at the same time. But I can’t multi-think! I can’t co-ordinate different parts of my body, timings, and think about what I’m doing at the same time, when it’s something I haven’t done before! This combined with the fact that the only time in the last year that I have used “my core muscles”… was childbirth and I’m pretty sure I knackered any core I have during that process!
So needless to say, my wakeboarding attempt as an adult looked like this…
Attempt 1: Straight over the back of the board and into the water. No idea what happened, I had my eyes shut!
Attempt 2: Pull myself up, twist and faceplant into the lake.
Attempt 3: Pull myself up, wobble for about 5 feet, let go of board but forget to let go of handle, bounce across water a bit, let go of handle, wind myself hitting the water, struggle to breathe, feel disoriented, look for instructor, eventually respond to the ski staff shouting with a thumbs up to show I’m not drowning!
Attempt 4: About the same as attempt 4 but this time I did let go of the handle, landing head first in the water, and coming up feeling like I’d been punched in the head a few times, resolve to give up.
Attempt 5: Decide to give it one last go… This is my final (and BEST) attempt… See for yourself…
All in all, wakeboarding is fantastic fun and exhilarating even if you are rubbish at it (like me). Perhaps I’ll give it another go someday? Perhaps on ladies day when they slow the cable down? 30 Before 30… 1 down, 29 to go!