What's a wakeboarder to do when his access to a boat is strangled? Or when the local rivers, San Jacinto and Trinity, are closed off for, say, a piranha infestation? (Never say never!)
Beginning in spring 2011, Houston wakeboarders, waterskiers and kneeboarders will have an alternative that will provide them time on the water seven days a week, if they choose.
Wake Nation Houston will be breaking ground in Rosharon, near Pearland, next month.
As opposed to being pulled behind a boat, a cable system -- situated 35 feet up in the air -- will be responsible for towing up to eight riders around the lake at speeds of up to 18 mph. Riders can choose a smooth ride, carving about the lake, or take a turn at the course in place, complete with jumps, grind rails and sliders.
Peter Kennedy is the brains behind Wake Nation. In a past life Kennedy worked in the medical device industry. While on a medical mission in a depressed town in the Philippines, he came across a large number of what seemed like out-of-place tourists. They brought him to a cable park about a mile out of town and he immediately recognized opportunity.
"We needed this in the states," Kennedy recalls thinking. When he got home, he did some research and could only find a few similar cable parks across the nation and decided to start with a park in Cincinnati, where he lived with his wife and kids. Houston is the second Wake Nation location, with another site potentially popping up in the Phoenix area.
Essentially, what Wake Nation does is "build skate parks or snowboard parks on water," Kennedy explains. The park will be open to anyone 5 or older and any experience levels, and all riders will be required to wear a Coast Guard-approved helmet and life jacket.
Unlike when being pulled by a boat, riders begin on a dock, and when the cable starts to pull they'll jump or slide into the water. According to Kennedy, the cable option is an easier way to learn.
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Aside from the fun and learning angle, Wake Nation also endorses the time benefits. "With the time it takes to load up a boat, drive to the lake or river, get set-up, get a few rides and then drive home, it's like 18 holes of golf, it takes all day," Kennedy says. Wake Nation will offer convenience.
The wakeboarding community in and around Houston seems excited and accepting of the park. "It's a different style, but it's still wakeboarding," said Brian LaFonte, the past president of Gulf Coast Wakeboard Association.
"When your buddies' boat breaks down, cable is another way to get on the water and hang with your buddies," LaFonte said. "It's another way to have some fun; nothing wrong with that."