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Asian Wakeboard Scene

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Asian Wakeboard Scene

  1. 1. Given the chance, the Asian wakeboard scene is spreading into our sights. Stand up and take notice, you will be hearing more and more about these riders in years to come. By Nat Khoo The tropical heats sears through blue skies, as Singapore puts on a showcase of Asian wakeboard talent. 45 competitors have come to partake in the West Side Jam at Raffles Marina from Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan, as well as the US, UK and France. Thanks to Maxout Hydrosports, my first major introduction to the Asian wakeboard scene took me by surprise. Upon arriving at the competition, I am amazed that in a country that has no rivers, or any lakes, there is flat water (albeit salt), proper wakeboarding boats, and as well as fun boxes being schooled by riders I don’t recognise. Even my Asian heritage didn’t prepare my skeptical preconceptions for this. The quality of riding and the quality of the event combined with its set-up blew me away. I wondered why more of the Western world hasn’t stood up and taken note of this progress that’s been proliferating right underneath our noses. WHERE HAS EVERYONE BEEN HIDING? It is important to understand that the for themselves as professional athletes but of. Therefore, most wakeboarders who may take the form of a board technology athletes in such competitions around also defeated many of the obstacles that ride for pleasure are likely to do so at developer in a manufacturing company Asia ought to be deeply respected for Western riders often don’t have. their own leisure, rather than sacrifice or perhaps a marketing-related role for what they do, as some would say that We are lucky to live in a society that much time training and becoming a a boat or apparel company. With the they are even more dedicated than encourages outdoor activity as part of professional athlete. lack of wakeboard related industries the typical Western athlete. First and healthy living. There is relatively equal Another valid issue to address is the in Asia, there is no hope for a retired foremost, Asian wakeboarders simply access for all public to embrace such future career of a professional rider in wakeboarder. The idea of having to start don’t have as many opportunities offered a lifestyle. However, in places such as Asia. In Australia and the US, riders from the bottom in middle-age after to them compared to athletes from the Singapore, to choose an extreme sports are pretty much guaranteed a career the end of a professional riding career is US and Australia. Hence, Asia’s top lifestyle in a society that priorities related to the wakeboarding field upon enough to chase most potential trophy wakeboarders have not only made a name quality education is practically unheard retiring from professional riding. This winners out of the spotlight. THE CONSTRAINTS OF FINANCIAL LIMITATIONS DISADVANTAGES GIVE BIRTH TO A NEW LEVEL OF DEDICATION In addition to this, less developed Adam Bruce, our own beloved Aussie It was only in 1998, eight years after them, and Toon, a relatively unheard countries such as Thailand and thunder from Down Under, has spent Jimmy Redmon established the World of name from Thailand, taking the Indonesia pose financial restrictions much of his career working with schools Wakeboard Association, that Asia had the other. Since then Thailand has been which confine most people to outdoor in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. chance to burst into the US dominated blessed with an emergence of talented activities they can actually afford, According to Brucey, “Wakeboarding wakeboard scene. This is when people wakeboarders slowly but steadily entering such as plucking the wings off flying in Asia compared to Australia is very began to take notice. Riders from all the scene. However, as the scene is still beetles and attaching them to a piece of different because private ownership of over the world competed for two spots growing, it is very difficult to get a string to make a kite. And those who boats is rare. Boat rental is expensive, but available in the Summer X Games with sponsor to help riders out. are talented enough to make a name the only way to ride. Other than that, our own Josh Sanders taking one of for themselves often just don’t have cable parks are the only cheap alternative. the money to keep their habit going. There are some awesome riders, and Furthermore, with a weaker currency, the people involved are great. The scene it is near impossible to finance travel to is definitely gaining great momentum, national and international competitions however its one and only restriction is in order to build their reputation. the riders’ level of opportunity.” ASIAN INVASION / 85
  2. 2. Let’s take Lota for example. Lota is Entertainment Wake and Ski), he only has pulled the carpet out from under my Wake Jam Singapore; “The largest perhaps one of Asia’s most renowned one sponsor, Ten 80 (the apparel company feet, schooling a 360 over a fun box twice difference is the lack of private ownership riders from Thailand, having been in the is one of the biggest names in the Asian his height and four times his length. of wakeboard watercraft. Therefore, wakeboard scene since last millennium wakeboard scene). However, the sunny Watch out for this one; combined with we don’t have the wakeboarding and winning first place at the Asian flip-side to this is that the quality of riding his showmanship he is going to take the communities found in Australia or the X-Games in 2003. His sponsors are is booming, with Asian riders having to world by storm. Didi Anwar is another US where people tend to hitch rides Liquid Force, DC Shoes and Von work so much harder for their recognition. highly respectable and well-known with one another and pay for gas and Zipper. There are little riders in Asia Bomb, a pioneer spokesperson tries his best Thai rider, and happens to be Daniel’s drinks. This is very much a result of who have such a reputation, yet there to make sure “Asia doesn’t get left behind,” coach and mentor. He says, “Thai the costs of owning and maintaining a are tons of riders in Australia and the and advocates that they should get far more wakeboarding has always been cursed boat in the sea-water environment of US that have far more sponsors. The recognition in sponsorship and events. with association problems, so riders never Singapore. In addition to this, there price of equipment is one of the biggest When asked about his future, Bomb says, have any sort of support. Unfortunately are limited designated water sports financial problems for any Asian rider. “I just want to represent Asia and show this has heavily affected the progression areas in Singapore as most water spaces Consequently, given the fact that such the rest of the world what we can do. We of the sport in the country”. were designated as shipping channels riders from Thailand mostly own low- just don’t get given the same chances as to support the Port of Singapore as the end model boards they can afford, if everyone else and I want people to know “Thai wakeboarding has world’s busiest port for transshipment more Asian wakeboarders were given we exist”. always been cursed with traffic and the world’s biggest ship financial assistance through board-based association problems, so riders refuelling centre. All of Singapore’s lakes sponsorship, their talent could potentially “I just want to represent Asia never have any sort of support. and waterways have been preserved and develop at a much faster rate. and show the rest of the world Unfortunately this has heavily treated as reservoirs and hence locals are Currently, the Thai rider hotter than raw what we can do. We just don’t affected the progression of the restricted from conducting motorized chilli and lemon juice is Padiwat Jaemjan, get given the same chances as sport in the country” watersports activities in them.” more commonly known as “Bomb”. 20 everyone else and I want people Jayne says sadly, “There are, however, years old, he has managed to rise towards to know we exist” HANDS UP WHO OWNS A BOAT? nine wakeboarding centres in Singapore the top of podiums including a faultless that offer one-hour sessions for anyone 1st place overall in the Japan Wake Series 11 year old Daniel Grant (who strangely In Australia, we might be lucky enough interested in wakeboarding. But this is Pro Tour last year. Bomb even flew Down loves cheese) is definitely doing his part to be able to embrace a wake, but as very different to the wakeboard schools Under and competed in the Australian in representing Asia. This little big-eyed Jayne Goh tells me, “the boating culture of the US where people tend to stay for Pro Tour last summer coming 9th place cartoon-faced kid beholds a talent you in Asia just isn’t as strong as it is in several days for wakeboard clinics and overall. Yet, other than his own home- would never guess behind his cheeky the US or Australia.” Jayne is an avid work primarily on their fundamentals or grown wakeboard school in Thailand (Total smile. Less than half my size, Daniel wakeboarder and the brains behind new tricks.” 86 / ASIAN INVASION
  3. 3. MAKING THE MOST OF IT – the completion of the famous Cam Sur the world, and the weather Under. This is a privilege Eastern riders LET’S GO CABLE Watersports Complex in the Philippines, is always good. So within don’t get to experience much. Their talent is being spawned giving so many one year, you would get the exposure is often limited to what they The Thais, along with numerous other people the chance to give professional on-water time of someone in see in the media, rather than living the Asian countries, have persevered taking wakeboarding a go, whether from a the US riding for about two dream overseas for themselves. Bomb advantage of cable wakeboarding which Western or Eastern background. and a half. This is how Thai believes that, along with all other Asian is much more accessible than boat. Didi However, the restriction to only cable riders develop so fast” wakeboarders, they can learn so much Anwar says, “For over 15 years, Thailand wakeboarding does pose problems for Welcoming Asian riders into from witnessing first-hand how people has had a lot of cable parks including Asian competitors who hope to ride another world... from other countries ride. By opening TACO Lake in Bangkok, Lakeland the world stage. As Jayne Goh reports, their eyes to the styles of others, they in Pattaya, Lakepoint in Ratchaburi, “One of the most difficult challenges I During his visit to Australia, Bomb stayed can try to catch up and compete with Cableway Phuket, and the newest faced in organizing Wake Side Jam 09 with Dean Smith, and was taken care of the best. Perhaps as Australians and New ThaiWakePark, open to the public on was recruiting competitors based on our by Australia’s favourite riders, travelling Zealanders, we can take a page out of the 21st March 2009. So a large amount unusual choice of competition pass. With around and riding places such as Lake Bomb’s book. By opening our eyes to of people have tried the sport or been a a 50-50 judging criteria on wake tricks Conjola. When asked about Australia, them, we might be able to learn more rider for a couple of years. Riding cable and obstacles respectively, many local he was lost for words beaming with a about our beloved sport, and diversity in here is cheap compared to the rest wakeboarders are only used to riding smile from ear to ear. However Bomb riding worldwide. of the world, and the weather is always either wake tricks behind the boat or did mention that when he ate at a Thai Thanks to Maxout Hydrosports for being good. So within one year, you would get obstacles at the cable park. There are restaurant, he thought. “Hmm, this is one of the Asian companies pushing the the on-water time of someone in the US hardly any riders that are experienced in a little different; it tastes a little wierd... sport keeping it alive, and everyone who riding for about two and a half. This is both. Maxout Hydrosports is the only They call this the spiciest thing on the has offered their insight into making our how Thai riders develop so fast” (Daniel wakeboarding school in Singapore that menu?” But he says with a hearty chuckle, wakeboard community a better place for has only been riding 3 years!). has an obstacle course besides Cable-ski.” “Maybe I just went to the wrong Thai everyone. Adam Bruce is adamant that cable Nonetheless, she remains positive in restaurant or something!” His favourite www.maxouthydrosports.com wakeboarding is the best avenue for Asian her outlook, “With increasing exposure aspect to coming to Australia was seeing www.ten-80.com riders to blossom and earn the respect and availability of such setups in the so many different riders, each with their www.wakeboard.com.sg they deserve. He says “The opening of Asian wakeboard scene, I believe the own individual styles, “It was like I www.thaiwakepark.com ThaiWakePark is helping really push community will catch on in no time.” stepped into another world, and everyone www.totalentertainment.co.th things along, and I believe Thailand else seemed to be one step ahead”. www.camsurwatersportscomplex.com will keep producing quality riders in “Riding cable in here is He considers himself so fortunate to be times to come.” Needless to say, since cheap compared to the rest of able to experience wakeboarding Down ASIAN INVASION / 87

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