Cable park access provided by O-dub, aka OWC, aka “the cable”. The Orlando Watersports Complex is a unique watersports park designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating, kneeboarding and waterskiing. Now over 10 years old, OWC has established itself as the premiere locale for riders of all levels. Click here for more information.
Hitting obstacles for the first time can seem pretty intimidating. Hopefully, in this video, we can help you overcome any reluctancy by going over a few simple principles that will help you successfully hit rails and ramps at your local cable park.
Let's first start with rails. The wider the rail is, the easier it will be to keep your balance and avoid being pulled off. For your first few attempts, find a wide rail or a box to test out until you become more comfortable. Then start hitting longer and skinnier rails as you progress.
Two of the most basic sliding positions in board sports are 50/50 and Board slides. A “50/50” Slide is when your board is lined up parallel to the rail. A “Board Slide” is when your board is sliding perpendicular to the rail. Board sliding may appear scarier because many rider's feel that they are vulnerable to a face plant in this position. In reality, it is a more stable position because balancing your weight in between your right foot and your left foot is easier than balancing your weight in between your toes and your heels. Although the 50/50 slide feels more natural, you are more likely to be pulled off of the rail in this position. Board sliding allows for a lot more lateral movement across the rail, being the more favorable of the two.
While sliding in either position, remember that you must stand with your weight completely centered over the board. While riding on the water, most riders lean back against the rope a bit and do not stand completely neutral or centered over the board, even during a frontside slide. For that reason, many riders have a tendency to slip out over their heels when they first start hitting rails.
One way to replicate this “over your feet” feeling is to run and slide on the kitchen floor in your socks. If you are leaning back at all, your feet will slip and you will fall. To put an even more realistic “on the water” feel to it, have a friend tow you across the slick floor with an old wakeboard handle. While being pulled or towed by something, your tendency to lean back increases. This is the same reason why riders tend to fall back on rails at first. As counter-intuitive as it may feel, you really have to be centered over the board while sliding on the slick surface of a rail.
Now that you understand board position and balance, let's move on to dealing with line tension. The edge you take toward to the rail will directly effect the line tension that you will have on the rail. Line tension is minimized in the same way that a boat rider will set up for an ollie out in the flats. If you edge out with a short progressive edge and then flatten off quickly, your speed will match or even pass the speed of whatever is towing you. When that happens, you will have a small window where your line tension is at a minimum. Now let's apply this same principle to hitting a rail. Time it right so that when you flatten off of your edge, you have just enough time to ollie or slide onto the rail with almost no coasting. This will give you the best use out of the “tension free” window that you've just bought yourself. You can also lengthen that window by edging harder for the lengthier obstacles.
Next, let's talk about hitting Ramps or Kickers. We will use these same principles of board position and line tension and apply them differently. For your first few attempts, find a small ramp with a mellow incline or transition. Approach the ramp much like you would a rail as we discussed earlier. When you hit the ramp, absorb most of it with your knees, spot the water, and absorb the landing with soft legs. As you become more comfortable, you can begin resisting the transition by standing taller and eventually adding a good hard push with your legs for maximum height.
As for board position, riding straight up the transition of the ramp without turning the board would put you in the 50/50 slide, which, as we discussed earlier, is a less stable position. The “Board Slide” position, however, will make it easier to resist the force of the ramp because you are more stable and can stand evenly on both feet without having to hold a twisted position up the transition.
There is one thing to remember for best dealing with line tension on ramps. The angle of your path into the ramp directly affects your line tension while in the air. A Medium amount of line tension is ideal while learning. For a Medium amount of line tension, you will want to hit the ramp straight up the middle.
For Maximum line tension, the rider will choose an angle across the ramp that is directed away from the cable. This trajectory will put the rider's landing further away from the cable than the kicker, making the line tight the whole time the rider is in the air and upon landing.
For Minimum line tension, the rider will choose an angle across the ramp that is directed toward the cable. This trajectory will put the rider's landing closer to the cable than the kicker, causing the line to be more loose in the air and during the landing. Remember, for best results when learning, “board slide” on mellow ramps straight up the middle with soft knees until you are comfortable.
That about sums it up. Now that you understand these few basic principles about line tension and board position, you are ready to start hitting your first rails and ramps at your local cable park.