I don’t usually look forward to long drives, but the 12 hours I would be driving on this particular Friday had me pretty fired up. It started with me and two of my buddies driving eight hours from San Diego to Lake McClure to pick up our sons from a week at West Coast Camps. Our eventual goal was to get over to Lathrop for the Pro Wakeboard Tour stop the next morning. However, not wanting to waste any time on our jaunt to Nor Cal, we figured we’d squeeze in a trip to Wake Island cable park before the sun went down. Wake Island is located just 10 minutes north of Sacramento, so after a quick lunch we had to get on our horse.
The Wake Island website said they were open until dusk and we were counting on them holding to that because we wouldn’t roll into their parking lot until almost 6:00 PM. With the long summer days, we figured we would still have time to get in some decent riding before the sun dropped. When we finally arrived we were amazed by the setup. Not only was there a huge full-size cable lake, but there was a boat lake, a System 2.0 lake, a paddleboard lake and plenty of room for future expansion.
Wake Island is California’s first and only full-size cable park. With all the hoops California makes businesses jump through, especially for an undertaking like a cable park, I wondered how owner Noel Carter pulled off something that so many others have failed at. “Persistence, luck and the willingness to lose it all trying! It took over four years to get Wake Island open,” Carter quipped.
The main cable lake was huge with a bright blue tint (yeah, I think they colored it a little) and plenty of varied hits running up and down both sides. The staging area was well thought out with a ramp down to the launching dock where you could either do a slide in start, sitting start or jump start. The area was surrounded by a huge patio with tables where you could buy food and drinks (even adult ones) and conveniently watch the action on the water. Noel and his great staff greeted us and quickly got us through the paperwork. They got the kids all geared up at the Boardco pro shop and they headed out the door ready to hit the cable.
From the huge viewing deck we were pleasantly surprised to see riders like Dallas Friday, Kaesen Suyderhoud and Raequel Hoffman waiting for a pull on the cable. It was a packed house, so we got the kids in line for their first-ever cable drag. Some had more success than others with the slide-in start, but once they got the hang of it they were getting launched without a problem. They took a few rounds just getting used to the pull of the cable and gazing at the obstacles, which ranged from beginner to advanced in their difficulty. Although the kids got a taste of hitting obstacles while they were riding the flat slider at West Coast Camps, they had never seen anything like this!
My 11-year-old son, Blake, got his feet wet, so to speak, with the picnic table slider and got his first taste of success. The look on his face each time he got out of the water to get back in line was priceless. The first words out of his mouth were, “This is so awesome. WakeWorld needs to build a cable park!” Of course, I agreed whole-heartedly (completely disregarding the current level of WakeWorld’s bank account). He eventually hit several of the obstacles Wake Island had to offer, including a kicker and the step-up rail. To say that all the kids had a blast would be the understatement of the year!
Wake Island is actually very focused on bringing kids into the sport and it’s the perfect venue in which to do so. They just started a new program called “Kids Club” where they open the cable up early on Saturday mornings just for kids aged 7-15. “The key things about the Kids Club are; we slow down the full size cable system, it is only for kids, the price is right at $25 for 1.5 hours and the young guns (7-9) do not need a private lesson beforehand,” said Carter. Kids Club is a nice stepping stone to get kids to the next level and get them comfortable enough to come out and ride at the normal cable speed with all the Wake Island regulars.
Because we were so limited on time, us “grown-ups” didn’t get a chance to hit the blue waters of Wake Island, but we were already planning to fly up to Sacramento for another visit. The kids hung onto that cable until closing time. In fact, Blake was pretty proud of the fact that he was the last one on the cable for the day. He kept hitting rails and kickers, but he wasn’t falling, so the cable operator (who happened to also be the owner) finally had to shut him down… yet another badge of honor!
The dynamic of the cable park is just an amazing opportunity, for both families and individuals, to hang out all day, get in some quality riding and really enjoy the sport. I cannot wait until we get a cable park in the San Diego area because I can assure you my family and I will be annual pass holders. Until then, we’ll dream of Wake Island or one of the other amazing cable parks that are starting to dot this great nation.
If you live in the Sacramento area, I’m not sure why you’re sitting here reading this article. You really should be over at Wake Island riding and sliding. Bring your family, friends, relatives or even your garbage man. Sharing the experience and comparing performances with others is all part of the fun. Check out their rates, events and specials at WakeIslandWatersports.com. Hopefully, I’ll see you there!