After a rockstaresque evening in Brussels and getting about three hours of sleep, Andy Lamesch (my friend from Luxembourg) and I hopped in the car and made our way to his home country. After driving for several hours, we made it to the Moselle River, which is on the border of Luxembourg and Germany. It’s where I was going to be spending my next two weeks. We stopped at the first club that I would be coaching at, Ski Nautique Grevenmacher, just to see what I was getting myself into for the next few days.
What I saw was incredible; glassy waters surrounded by vineyard covered hills. Aside from a small section of the river that had a seawall, this place seemed perfect. Unfortunately, perfection has a price as I saw a massive cargo ship slowly make its way down the river. It turns out that the Moselle is heavily trafficked and primarily used for shipping. Luckily there are locks scattered throughout the river which impede the boat traffic, so as soon as the boats pass by, it is nice and glassy again.
I was excited to ride and jumped at the opportunity for a set behind their loaded down X-2. That was when I learned about the other restrictions of the river. There are “ski zones” on the Moselle and you are only allowed to ride in those areas. I’m still not sure why it is that way since it has nothing to do with having a wake or not. Either way, conditions were still amazing and I had a great time riding.
We started running clinics the next day and had a great group of riders that were a lot of fun to be with out on the water. Everybody was riding at different levels, but they were all pushing each other. We had one wakeskater who learned his first shuvit and then followed it up with some nice wake to wake jumps. We had plenty of riders who were improving their jumps, grabs and 180’s. Of course, there were a couple of other guys learning scarecrows and rolls to revert.
Riding wasn’t the only fun thing that we did in Gravenmacher. One of the local guys at the club, Nico “The Pirate,” kept us fed and fully entertained for those four days of clinics. He had more crazy stories than anyone I have ever met, ranging from winning the World Joint Rolling Contest to tattooing a washing machine on someone’s back while in prison (I guess those could be somewhat related). He kept me laughing the entire time I was there.
After those four days of riding in Gravenmacher, Andy and I hopped in the car and drove up to Trier, Germany for my next round of clinics. After eating a healthy McDonald’s dinner, seeing a burning apartment complex and, unfortunately, backing into a parked car, we met up with my friend, Andy Mogg. He is an expat from Michigan who moved to Germany several years ago and has really focused to help promote boat riding in the region.
When we arrived at Andy’s club the next morning, we were greeted by a welcoming group of friends, as well as absolutely perfect conditions. All we had to do was gas up the boat and get out there. This in itself was different from what I’m used to. The club’s Malibu VLX was converted so that it runs off of LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas). So instead of picking up gas at the station and pouring it into the gas tank of the boat, we picked up pre-filled LPG tanks (which are big metal canisters) and connected them to hoses in the back storage locker. It is a really cool system and since LPG is so much cheaper than gasoline, it makes wakeboarding a little less expensive. On top of that, those tanks are heavy and work well as ballast.
Anyways, back to the riding. The clinics turned out great. The first couple of days were nice and relaxed with just a few riders. Everybody rode a few times and we all had a lot of fun. On Saturday, everybody started rolling in. The lessons were going non-stop. It was crazy. We had an airhorn in the boat and we were told to use it every time a new trick was landed. That thing was going off and I’m not sure it had anything left in it by the end of the weekend.
On Saturday evening, after everyone had finished their lessons, they all wanted me to go out for a demo ride. The water was complete glass and I got really excited even though the air temp had dropped and I was tired from the long day. I told everyone that I was probably going to take it easy, but that was thrown out the window after the first pass. I was feeling great and there was no reason to hold back. It was like I couldn’t fall. I was just going pass after pass after pass.
Finally, I was exhausted and called for a double up to finish the set. As we were going into the pre-turn, I noticed a little boat with several kids in it heading straight towards our rollers and I did my best to warn them and get them to stop. I guess they didn’t heed that warning and just as we were about to hit the double up, Andy pulled back on the throttle and I sank down into the water. The kids were fine, but if I had hit the double up, I would have definitely landed in their boat. At that point, I decided to call it a day and we made our way back to the dock.
As soon as we made it to shore, we were greeted by some angry Germans who apparently called the cops on us for driving 20 feet outside of the “ski zone” and getting too close to the boat that was cutting us off. Hearing an argument in German gave me the impression that a massive fight was about to break out, so I peaced-out and went back to the camp site. While we were on the water, a couple of the guys set up an above ground pool and connected a full-sized water heater to it and we all chilled out in our makeshift hot tub for the rest of the evening.
As we were getting ready to ride the next morning, marine patrol showed up and we had to sit down and explain our side of the story about what had happened the night before. We had to fill out some paperwork, but for the most part everything had calmed down. It seemed like everyone was a little bit worn out from all of the riding and maybe some of the beer consumption from the night before, but we still spent the majority of the day pushing ourselves out on the water.
That evening Andy Mogg and I made our way to Trier for dinner and a little sightseeing. It was definitely a nice way to end my few days of coaching in Germany. Then we were off to Gravenmacher to meet up with Andy Lamesch for another few days of coaching in Luxembourg.