Watersports in my life, until recently, have been limited to water ramping–which requires all of 20-feet of in-pool life-jacket-assisted “swimming” with boots and skis on your feet–and sailing, in which you barely ever touch the water. With my relatively recent exposure to whitewater kayaking, surfing, and most recently “snorkeling,” my water tolerance has slowly been increasing to a level that some may view as containing a hint of pleasure in watersports.
Wakeboarding and waterskiing, though, are exactly where the pleasure stops.
Now, in all honesty, wakeboarding is one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. But, man, am I bad at it.
At the exact age of 11-ish, I was attending Junior Sail Camp at Berlin Yacht Club in North Benton, Ohio. A kind instructor chose a handful of kids to take on his ski boat during a break from sailing. Being the 1st-generation childhood ski prodigy that I was, I volunteered to scoot my under-sized feet into the waterskis first. Little did I know that, after a few successful starts and some big, arching turns, my comrades posted up on the motor boat would successfully (and easily) convince me to attempt to jump the wake. About 5 seconds, 5 feet of air, and 5 feet too little air later, I re-emerged from the water, hand on bloody head, to a gash worthy of the 16-head-stitches it would soon receive.
My attempt had gone something like this:
- swing wide, but not wide enough
- cut back in towards the wake, but with such little angle that I was jumping the hypotenuse of the boat’s wake
- jump, jump, jump
- tips dig into the water mid-wake
- faceplant, faceplant, faceplant
- face and life-jacketed body hit water, preventing immediate submersion
- skis float,forcing them back out of the water and into the air
- legs bend, ski tails shoot back and up and hit me directly in the back of the head
- bloody head, trip to hospital, 16 stitches, vow to never again take (lack of) on-snow talent to water
Fast forward 12 years, and here I was:
Incredibly reminiscent of my first accident, I found myself, once again, succumbing to the peer pressure being yelled from the boat pulling me. But this time, I was 23, in Utah, being towed by a friend’s boat that was blaring loud electronic music, full of 20-somethings who were screaming at me to jump the wake.
Here it goes again:
- once again be the first person to ride for the day
- jump wake
- turn 90 degrees mid-air
- land on my toeside edge
- get arms yanked by rope
- SLAM face-first into the water
- you know that little flap connecting your upper lip to your gums? (yes, the one you’re feeling with your tongue right now)
- I tore that. completely in half.
But not one to ruin everyone’s day, I redeemed myself on the board and encouraged everyone to keep smiling and not worry about my flap.
Then we did my favorite thing in the entire universe: wakesurfing. This was real, real fun.