Ride the Waves in Orlando and Miami

    By Saundra Amrhein

    As Brandon is telling me to put my feet in the wakeboard boots – or bindings, as they’re called – I am remembering the advice I got before buying my ticket here at the Orlando Watersports Complex: don’t overthink it.

    I scoot my rump off the dock and into the water, wearing a helmet and life jacket, my feet inside the boots attached to the wakeboard.

    Determined not to overthink things, I do just that, repeating in my mind everything Brandon has advised: Keep my dominant foot in the back. Bend my knees. Shift my weight slightly back, but not too much. Gaze up at a point on the horizon. Keep my arms straight out, hands clasping the handle attached to the cable. And of course, relax.

    Austin Hayward, 20, takes to the advanced area with jumps and tricks.

    Austin Hayward, 20, takes to the advanced area with jumps and tricks.

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    Learn how to wakeboard, waterski, kneeboard, wake surf or wakeskate.

    Learn how to wakeboard, waterski, kneeboard, wake surf or wakeskate.

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    While I’m still running down my mental checklist, Brandon starts the cable. The long line jerks at the handle in my hands, slowly pulling me up. In the next instant – wham! I crash down, backward, water rushing into my face and nose.

    Luckily, I’ve purchased the Get Up Guarantee. But I fear Brandon has a challenge on his hands.
     

    Jeff Miller, of Wisconsin, and his son take  a course.

    Jeff Miller, of Wisconsin, and his son take a course.

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    Beginners giggle after taking their first lesson.

    Beginners giggle after taking their first lesson.

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    WHAT YOU’LL FIND

    The Orlando Watersports Complex off Florida State Road 528 has been around since 1999. (The newer Miami Watersports Complex is located in Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah.)

    Both offer wakeboarding, wakeskating, wakesurfing, kneeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, tubing and waterskiing. The Orlando facility has a boat lake and three cable systems. While it hosts Wake Games and Pro Tour Stops, it specializes in offering something for all levels – particularly for newbie like me, wakeboarding for the first time.

    On my way to the cable system for my beginner’s lesson, I’d walked along a long narrow boardwalk. Off to my left was the advanced cable, where wakeboarders and wakeskaters were riding rails and doing 360-degree spins. And on my right was the standard cable that moves at a constant 18 mph and allows newer riders the chance to take wide turns and practice new skills. I’d be heading there next – if I could get up on the wakeboard at all.

    RIDING THE WAVES

    “Don’t muscle into it,” Brandon had called out after I’d fallen. I had to stop pulling the cord toward me. I grab the handle bobbing in the water. Brandon re-starts the cable. I turn off my mind. The muscles in my thighs, hips, calves take over, holding me up as the board slices through the water. I look down, throwing myself off-balance. Spash! I fall again.

    The complex offers fun for kids and adults alike.

    The complex offers fun for kids and adults alike.

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    A young guest shows off his moves on the water.

    A young guest shows off his moves on the water.

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    Again, back up. This time, I do as Brandon says. I look up toward the horizon. He is right. It keeps me balanced. I’m riding the wakeboard. Brandon is cheering, following me along the boardwalk to the end of the cable line. I did it!

    But as I ready to take on the next level – the standard cable – thunder clouds roll in. The cables are temporarily stopped. Like the other patrons, I have the option to wait out the lightning storm and enjoy my four hours when it passes. Or come back and use the time at a later date with the purchase of a basic ride. With my new-found confidence, I decide to come back later and bring my husband and help coach him through the beginner stage.

    The trick, I will tell him, is not to overthink it.

    For more information, visit: www.aktionparks.com.

    Orlando WaterSports Complex
    8615 Florida Rock Road
    Orlando, FL 32824
    407-251-3100

    Miami Watersports Complex
    401 E 65 Street
    Hialeah, FL 33013
    305-476-9253

     

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