Surfing on a Rope

30 Jan 2019
Riders glide over the splashing water on their boards, apparently effortlessly. They catapult themselves to breathtaking heights, perform daring somersaults, stand upside down in the air and spin around at lightning speed. But what looks like a breeze requires a lot of practice and concentration. Wakeboarding is the trendy sport for agile water lovers, and is a mixture of waterskiing and surfing. As with waterskiing, wakeboarders hold on to a rope while a motorboat or cable ski brings them up to the right speed. They stand not on two skis, but on a wide board called a wakeboard. Then, they speed over the waves at more than 30 kilometers per hour. Wakeboarders use the wake left by the boat as a ramp for their artistic tricks.

The number of enthusiastic wakeboarders and associated facilities is steadily growing in Germany. One of these facilities is located in Langenfeld. This is where Nicol Brömmer does her laps on the cable ski. She has been coming to the small town in the Rhineland for five years. “Being on the lake is a lot of fun. Wakeboarding is an incredibly diverse sport. You can try out air tricks or jump onto obstacles and take off,” explains the young sports enthusiast. “And sore muscles are guaranteed.”

Beginners receive support and advice from experienced riders or staff at the wakeboarding facility. Experts recommend that beginners start with a waterskiing course to get the right feel for the water. “It’s important to build up good body tension at the start and stay in a squat position. Beginners should wear a helmet so as not to hurt themselves, even if they don’t try any tricks,” says Nicol Brömmer. Being patient is an essential requirement. After all, it takes some time and many involuntary “baths” before you can get off to a successful start. And then comes the first turn…

A wakeboarder’s equipment includes a wetsuit, an impact vest, a helmet and, of course, a board. The latter is between 1.10 and 1.50 meters long and 38 to 50 centimeters wide. Its core is made of PU or PVC foam, honeycomb or wood, which gives it buoyancy. The curvature of the board – called the rocker – largely determines how it handles on the water. The fins provide the board’s necessary stability. Together with the channels (indentations) on the bottom of the board, the fins also play a part in the handling.

Beginners should start with rigid boards that are suitable for simple jumps without a ramp, such as the “Ollie.” In this trick, wakeboarders crouch down and catapult themselves up with the board and then land on the water again as elegantly as possible. Advanced riders prefer flex wakeboards, which promise a lot of fun jumping on ramps and other obstacles. The flex-zone board combines the advantages of both variants: jumps on the water and on ramps.

The board should not only be functional, but also look great. For the printed exterior film on wakeboards, you can use Pocan Hightech plastic from LANXESS. Using the thermal diffusion method (material separation in gases or liquids due to temperature differences), fashion trends can be implemented quickly. “Pocan is easy to print on and attach. In addition, our high-performance plastic is characterized by good chemical resistance, high dynamic load capacity and a high-gloss surface,” explains Axel Tuchlenski, Head of Global Research and Development at LANXESS’ High Performance Materials business unit.


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