Cable Wakeboarding is one of the hottest growing water sports trends. Instead of being towed with a boat or PWC, a rider is towed by an overhead cable. Cable systems range from two point cables where the rider is towed along a single axis to more elaborate systems with 4-6 towers that tow multiple riders around a circuit.
For all intensive purposes, cable riding is no different than riding behind the boat. With a little practice, Riders can still perform many of the same tricks and grabs but have the added bonus of park features. Much like a skate park or snow park, features are structures build along the cable path that give the rider other tools to expand the creativity of their runs. These features are virtually limitless and can be kickers to allow big air tricks, rails and boxes for grinding, transfer boxes, a frames, and even quarter pipes to wall ride. Along with features, traditional beginner tricks such as surface turns are still possible. You can even do inverts, raleys, and air tricks all without hitting the features.
Will my wakeboard work?
You do not need a specific wakeboard for riding the cable, but if you plan on trying the features, a specific slider based will prolong the life of your board. A traditional wakeboard (boat board) only has a fiberglass base that was not intended to repeatedly hit features; whereas, a slider based wakeboard has a P-Tex base similar to a snowboard that will protect your board and can easily be repaired if it sustains damage. Many riders either chose to purchase a new board with a slider base that is cable specific wakeboard
, use an older board they no longer ride, or purchase a hybrid board which performs well on cable as well as behind the boat. Also a note, hitting features will also void your warranty on your board, so it is generally recommended that you opt for a slider base to prolong the life of your board.
Also, its important to consider the size of the board. Typically cable systems are traveling at less than the average speed behind a boat. Because of this, its helpful to "round up" when considering a board. For instance, if a 175 lbs rider were to chose between a wakeboard has a size rating of 140 to 180 lbs and the size above ranges from a 160 to 195 lbs, it would be better to go with the larger size because at the slower speeds at the cable, the rider is going to think the board feels sluggish and slow. This is because you need extra surface area of a longer board to make up for the lack of speed compared to boat.
What type of board performs best on the cable?
Just as there is not a universal boat board for every rider, cable boards can vary greatly based on what kinds of tricks a rider prefers. For instance, wake boarders who prefer to hit rails and boxes tend to prefer a board that has some flex allowing them to press on the board while sliding on features. This extra flex from the board allows one to balance easier while on the park features. Slider boards typically also lack bottom features and molded fins. This is because molded fins will break off exposing the inner core of the board unless the board has a slider base.
When deciding on a rocker shape, riders behind a boat either choose a continous rocker board to carry speed into the flats or a 3 stage to generate the maximum amount of pop. The same holds true in cable. Riders who prefer to do big inverts and raleys on the corner towers typically prefer a foam core board with a defined edge and a fast rocker line to generate speed. Most of these boards will be continuous rocker or blended rocker boards. Conversely, a 3 stage rocker will carry less speed but can generate more vertical lift on Ollie's and kicker features. Most boards will be somewhere in between,
Riders who prefer to do have their cake and eat it too sometimes find a hybrid board with a little less flex and the ability to generate speed can be a good middle ground.
Do I need special boots for cable?
Not especially. Some riders prefer a softer pair of bindings so they have more flexibility on the features but boots are all personal preference. Also, some boots are have advantages on the cable. Check out the Hyperlite Systems, Slingshot Shredtowns, and the CWB Prisms. These models offer removable liners or boots that secure like snowboard that make that long walk from the backside of the lake not as uncomfortable.
What else do I need at the cable?
Most cable parks require you to wear a helmet
and a coast guard approved jackets
. The helmet needs to fit properly but helmets are personal preference. Liquid Force and Shred Ready both make a complete line of water sports specific helmets. Comp vests and non-coast guard approved vests are generally not allowed. However, wake companies have pushed the envelope by manufacturing new vests that allow flexibility and style while still carrying approval from the coast guard. Additionally, a light pair of ski gloves will protect your hands so you can ride all day, and a riding jersey will keep you stylish.