Remember the good ol’ days (more like a little less than a decade ago.. but hey, I sound wise with that phrase!) when every weekend, we witness cool kids flocking nearby provinces to wakeboard? This water sport may not be as mainstream as before, but it is definitely not out of the loop!
Welcome to the republic!
I hated my younger non-conformist self after my recent trip to Republ1c Wakepark in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Why am I just visiting you now? It seems like I missed out a lot these years. There is an adventurous, awe-striking vibe that will greet you the moment you lay your eyes on this watersports complex. The wakepark is so inviting, you just want to grab your gear and jump on your board! But first, registration and fees.
The registration may be a killjoy for first timers, but you have to give props to the facility’s admin for being efficient and organized. Guests can avail of a whole day, half day (four hours), two-hour, or one-hour packages. You can borrow safety gear (life vest and helmets) from the wakepark—this comes with a deposit fee of PHP 800, which will be returned after you surrender back the equipment. Ready? Yeyeaahh!
There are two “lakes” in the wakepark: one strip for beginners, and a much bigger oval track for more experienced wakeboarders. Since I’m the adventurous-YOLO type, I, of course, went to the beginners’ strip. Olats. You will fall on a queue—a perfect time to chat with fellow newbies (which we regret not doing. Hello, football player, hope to see you again!).
I was equal parts nervous and excited, but the former started to build up exponentially as the queue got shorter and shorter. What if I drown? Can the life vest buoy me up? Wait, how do I do this? LOL! The instructors will give you basic pointers, then everything else, you’ll learn from experience. I went through the instructions over and over like a litany so it would be inculcated in my system:
1) Sit on the edge – Only the upper-half of your butt should be sitting on the edge of the deck, while the rest of your lower body is immersed in the water. Of course, your feet should be attached to the board by now. Ask help from the instructors, if necessary! (It will be necessary!)
2) Feel the drag – Even if you flunked Physics in high school, you still have an idea that you can’t just jump in the pond and float. So how will you float? First you have to make sure that the board is parallel to your shoulder (pictured above) and your knees are bent, as if you are bracing for impact. When the cable starts to pull you (do not pull the handle, let it pull you), the broad surface of the board (OMG, physics. Nosebleed) will create a drag that would raise the board above the water. Keeping your knees bent will stabilize your center of gravity (please stay with me, last reference on Physics), as you gently gain your balance.
3) Slide to glide – Once the drag has created enough momentum (LOL! I lied!) and your board is above the surface of the water, shift the nose of the board so you can glide and direct your path. This part is a bit tricky as the ride becomes faster–a lot of things are happening simultaneously: you have to keep your balance, you shouldn’t pull the handle, the direction of the board should be correct, etc. This step proved to be too much for me, though, as I can’t seem to find my balance after attempting to shift the board. I just propped myself up and thought that there is much to be learned for every failure. True enough, I learned that the pond or lake or pool was about 4-5 feet deep so it is totally safe (plus you got your life vest)!
The dramatic finish
The sun was setting but my determination was not dwindling. I wanted to figure out how to wakeboard and perfect my ride. For one last time, I mustered all the will power I can squeeze out of me; stepped on the deck once more; sat on the edge; my feet securely attached to the wakeboard; only this time, I was equipped with eagle-eye focus. The cable began to pull me—okay, everything going according to plan. My board was parallel to my shoulder and felt the drag—so far, so good. I know everything I ought to know, I thought to myself. Then at the middle of the ride when I was about to glide, I inadvertently straightened out my legs again and lost my balance. My grip was still strong as the machine dragged me and for a split second, I was flying like Superman; to which you cannot help but exclaim, “Oh shit!”
Too bad there were no cameras to capture that moment. It makes up for a funny story, though! Exahusted, I decided to retreat, and live and fight another day. How do the cool kids do it, seriously?!
At the end of that scorching, tropical day, I just kicked it back, pondered on how sucky I was at wakeboarding, then just thanked how amazing it is to have 7,107 islands—and some superb world-class watersports complexes—coupled with an insatiable thirst for adventure. All is good, Philippines! Cool na cool!