CHOOSING THE RIGHT WATERSPORT FOR YOU
If you’ve just bought your first boat or moved to a new lakeside retreat, there are endless thrills to be discovered out on the water. Many older people find the idea of watersports conjures up images of high speeds, intense physical activity and thrill-seeking, but it doesn’t have to be like that. There are water sports and activities for people of all ages and with different abilities, strength and physical fitness.
My introduction to watersports came in the form of tubing. We got an old inner tube from a ute, tied it to the back of my dad’s boat and drag the thoroughly sunburnt rider around the river at high speeds.
The best thing about tubing is you can go as fast or as slow as you want. It can be as safe and relaxed or as exciting as you make it. It is also perfect for kids. Modern tubes have handles and are purpose built to make the whole thing a lot safer than my dad’s inner tube.
Kneeboarding is an accessible way into board sports on the water. It requires the rider to hold onto a rope and strap their knees into a board. It requires much less balance than waterskiing or wakeboarding and is, therefore, a great introduction. However, because of the pressure it puts on your knees and joints, this might be one better left to the teenagers and younger adults.
People think waterskiing is much harder than it is. The start is the hardest part. Once you are moving at speed balancing becomes much easier. The trick is to stay crouched until you are moving fast. Too many people try to stand up to soon and fall. If you are learning, tying the skis together can also help, as a lot of people do the splits then face plant when starting out.
In contrast to waterskiing, the deep-water start is much easier. The larger surface area means you hit the plane faster and all you have to do is turn the board under you. You will be surprised at how accessible wakeboarding is. The basics can be learnt in an afternoon, then you can start learning tricks. Once you dip your toe in the wakeboarding water, you will find it opens up a whole new, addictive world to explore.
The air chair may look like a futuristic torture contraption, but the fun is endless. It is basically a chair attached to a waterski and an elongated foil at the bottom. As the rider gains speed, the foil pushes them out of the water, so the rider actually sits a few feet above the water. It is difficult to learn, so invest in some lessons.
If you’ve been there, done it all and got the t-shirt, then barefoot skiing is for you. For the loosest Aussies, barefoot skiing is popular because the adrenaline is heightened, the speeds are faster, the faceplants heavier and the enjoyment factor is through the roof. It is wise to invest in some classes to get the basics, or you will find yourself spending a day faceplanting at speeds. Hilarious for onlookers, but tough for the rider.
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