Wakeboarding in Singapore

Wakeboarding in Singapore

CNNGo reader and adrenaline junkie Vicki Yeo guides us through the awesome sport of wakeboarding
Roger Koa
You can fly, with the help of a boat, a wakeboard and some skill.

Before I get started on the facts of wakeboarding in Singapore, let me explain how I got involved in the sport.

I was exposed to wakeboarding through a clinic held by the Wakeboarding Association of Singapore (WBA) at the then Jet Pilot Wakeboard Centre at Pasir Ris.

Called the "Just Girls" event, I joined with four other friends. All in all, the entire clinic encompassed about ten speedboats with an average of four participants per boat, one to two instructors and one boat driver.

The popular phrase "If you fall, try and try again" probably never meant more to me than then. With the right guidance, the feeling of wakeboarding and cruising with the wind in your face was exhilarating, like being on a motorcycle but on water (Mum, I’ve never been on a motorcycle before).

I’ve been a self-professed adrenaline junkie ever since.

Tan Kay TuckClearly a master of the v-shape wake.

What is wakeboarding?

Think of it as a board sport on water -- as if snowboarding on water, or skateboarding on water, but without the wheels.

The "wake" in "wakeboarding" actually refers to the V-shaped wake a speedboat leaves in its trail which functions as ramps allowing a wakeboarder to edge into the wake at a certain angle and thus gain some "air."

In layman’s terms, it is like gaining flight. The harder one edges, the more gravity defying the wakeboarder.

While it isn't the the most economical sport -- you have to take into account the cost to rent a boat, the driver and the petrol used -- most drivers here are well-equipped to give proper instructions, which is an added bonus.

Realistically, few wakeboarders ride for an hour at a go, an hour of water time is typically split between two to three people, thus the cost is actually less than it appears. Little do Singaporeans know, but many professional riders find the warm waters and season-less weather extremely appealing and the cost is relatively low compared to anywhere else.


Asian Xcursion 2005The Merlion looks as the Asian Xcursion 2005 gets underway.Extreme sports are deemed as "cool", but the reality of it is that they are not mainstream sports and funding for the community is made up entirely of volunteers dependent on passionate individuals willing to dedicate much time and effort.

Founder and ex-chairman of the Wakeboard Association of Singapore (WBA), David Ngiam, is credited for playing an integral role in building the local wakeboard community. Having just celebrated its 10th year, the reins have now been handed over to Chun Yih Tan.

Over the past ten years, the WBA has organized wakeboarding clinics and workshops, trips to the Phuket X-Games, to places like Kuala Lumpur for the Asian X-Games, as well as Bangkok and Osaka for the stops of the Asian Wakeboard Pro Tour. Not forgetting membership launches, workshops, trampoline clinics, annual parties and membership drives, etc.

Locally, the initiatives to raise the bar for the awareness of wakeboarding and to encourage fellow wakeboarders to engage in friendly competition came in the form of the WBA functioning as key organisers in such events, such as the Asian Xcursion in 2005, which for the first time, allowed wakeboarding in the Singapore River, with the Merlion in clear sight.

More recently, the 1st Singapore Wakeboard and Wakeskate championship was introduced in 2008 at ski360, the Cable contender 2009 and the Singapore Wake Park Championship 2010. These competitions also help to attract regional competition from Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Korea and the Philippines.

Cable Ski Riding vs. Wake Skating

Mark GriffinWakeboarder Mark Griffin showing off some tricks at Ski 360 Cable Park.
There are the cable riders, who start out on wakeboarding at cable ski parks such as ski360 at East Coast Park.

The main difference is that instead of being pulled by a speedboat, they are pulled by a rectangular cable system, which is electrically driven.

Ryan LeeMaxout Hydrosports representative Ryan Lee wakeskating.

Wake skating is like skateboarding on water, where the skater wears a pair of shoes to maneuver on the wake skate -- which unlike the wakeboard, does not have bindings to hold the feet firmly to the board.

Putting Singapore on the map

Westside JamUp, up and away!
Ryan Lee, owner of Maxout Hydrosports located in Raffles Marina, is the sole operator in the West side waterwaves and is credited for organizing a fair share of wakeboard tournaments, from Fully Loaded in 2004, and bringing down revered pro-riders like Randy Harris, Aaron Reed.

The annual Westside Jam has been running since 2008, with the next one slated to be in March 2011. Lee is also the main distributor of wakeboard brand Gator boards, a line which belongs to U.S pro rider Gator Lutgert.

Lee’s enthusiasm for the sport is no secret, and he has helped put Singapore on the global wakeboarding map by showcasing Singapore as a featured wakeboarding spot in the American publication "Wakeboarding Magazine." That’s not all, Maxout Hydrosports has also been featured in wakeboard videos and DVDs, all acclaimed by wakeboarders and wakeskaters, all around the world.

Pushing the limits

Sasha ChristianRed Bull sponsored competitor Sasha Christian taking flight at the Marina Barrage.
For the first time in local history, the Red Bull brand has recently endorsed local wakeboard athlete Sasha Christian for a five-figure sponsorship deal.

This speaks volumes for the future of wakeboarding, and extreme sports alike, in Singapore.

I guess true passion will never run dry.

About the author: Vicki Yeo is a fashion marketer by day, wordsmith by night under the guise of thevicster, a self-professed pop culture and adrenaline junkie who loves music and photography, mixed with a dash of constant curiosity and fascination towards branding, symbols and their various associated meanings… much like life itself.

Vicki submitted this piece as part of CNNGo’s CityPulse section. To find out what other stories we are looking for, go to our CityPulse page