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Wakeboarding, the ultimate ride.

Malaysia's ever-sunny tropical weather and countless pristine beaches provide the perfect excuse to indulge in water sports like scubadiving, snorkelling and yes, wakeboarding. If you have't heard of wakeboarding before, then consider an activity that's not only a boat-load of fun but an excellent way to stay fit and trim. Just add water.

The name "wakeboarding" may be not ring to many bells to those who are new to it, but simply put, wakeboarding is what you get when water-skiing and snowboarding get married and have a baby. With some distinct surfing elements thrown in for good measure.

In fact, so much fun is wakeboarding, and so easy to learn, that once you've got the hang of it, you'll never want to give it up agaiun. It really is that much fun.

Back in the 1980's something called ski-boarding stared gaining considerable traction amongst the snow-loving crowds in the US and Europe. Ski-boarding slowly but surely developed into the ubiquitous fun in the snow activity now known as snow-boarding.

Meanwhile, those not so blessed with steep slopes and a thick blanket of snow several months a year decided to provide an alternative means of forward thrust to enjoy their ski-boarding: a speed-boat. The boat tows the rider on a lake, the sea, basically any body of water that's big enough and not too choppy. Speeds are generally about 25-50 km/h, more than enough to provide a decent set of wake waves on either side of the rider. A new sport was born, wake-boarding

Apart from the great sensation of speed, wakeboarders also get stoked from using the boat's wave wakes as ramps to do all kinds of aerial acrobatics. And these days, don't be surprised when you see wakeboarders get air, spin this way and that, go fully inverted, land with an almightly splash and then keep just blasting away behind the boat as if going for a midday stroll.

Now, in the same way that snowboarding has brought about a cultural revolution in the ski industry, wakeboarding has reinvented the realm of waterskiing. In fact, with over 3 million active participants globally, wakeboarding is now the fastest growing water sport in the world.

The best part of all board sports is that although perhaps not always quite the same in principle, most of them tend to cross-over quite easily, not only by means of the similarity in the skills required, the freestyle tricks performed and the sometimes goofy names of these tricks, but also the sheer easy-going hang-loose lifestyles they engender and propagate. And let's not forget the cool camaraderie you'll find amongst all boarders, regardless of their denomination.

Although wakeboarding may still be a fairly recent addition to the various water sports practiced in Malaysia, it's fast gaining traction. One of the reasons is that whilst wakeboarding is a rush and a half to do, it's not necessarily dangerous.

Those keen to give wakeboarding a go, have a look at Malaysia Sea Sports or Tioman Ferry Tickets

KL residents can explore the wakeboarding options at Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel and Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup Sdn Bhd. WWWC was founded together with the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF). Both organizations have as their main objecive to market and promote wakeboarding amongst water sports enthusiasts in Malaysia.

Alright, let's get to the water. But before we do, let's check if you're a regular-footer (left leg first) or a goofy-footer (rught leg first). By this we mean that most boarders have a favorite foot with which they lead. Having the other foot forward feels awkard somewhow. So get in the wakeboarding stance and imagine yourself being towed. Does it feel more natureal to have your left foot forward or your right foot? Remember this, because it will make a world of difference to learning the finer wakeboarding skills.

Remember also that, generally, it's important to not try and get up onto the board too soon as you're being towed. Let the speed of the boat or cable do the hard work. Once your body clears the water surface, that's when you straighten out and put your full weight on the board. It's the speed of the board that keeps you afloat, so putting all your weight on the board before you've generated enough speed will just result in your body sinking back down into the water, at which point the force on the rope will get too much to hold, so you'll let go. You'll then have to start from scratch. Patience is a virtue here.
Note that there are good ways to fall and bad ways. If you feel you're going to fall, let go of the rope handle and deflect the impact with the water where you can. Falling sideways is better than forwards or backwards.

Lastly, just like any other sports, walkeboarding will tax your body in places you didn't know could be taxed. So a 5 minute stretch/ warm-up is always a good idea. That said, don't be surprised that you're sore pretty much all over the day after your first wakeboarding session. But just realize that it's one more step towards total body fitness and nailing that ultimate trick for all your mates to see.

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