Big Bear Lake is not the first wakeboarding destination that comes to mind if you live in Southern California. If you would mention it to anyone around here, the first thing they would think of would be Snow Summit or Bear Mountain. Well, this summer things have changed in the small mountain town better known for its slopes.
The introduction of point-to-point cable systems (Ski Rixen Little Bro and Sesitec System 2.0) has changed the way many go about wakeboarding, and Big Bear Lake is no exception. Desi Hauer and Thad Epting have both brought cable riding to the mountain lake almost simultaneously. Both are using Rixen Little Bro systems and both operate the cable systems under very similar names. This, however, is where the similarities end.
Big Bear LAKE Cable Wake Park is operated by Desi Hauer, a native Big Bear resident. Desi has been at the forefront of bringing cable riding to Big Bear. One of the first cable systems of its kind on the west coast has been in the works for many years and has encountered countless obstacles before finally getting approval by the Big Bear Lake Water District.
Desi is the owner and operator of Designated Wakesports, a wakeboard charter/instruction service in Big Bear since 2004. Since the beginning of cable riding, Desi has been attempting to bring cable riding to Big Bear Lake. The space necessary to install a full cable park system has been the biggest hurdle to overcome, but with the introduction of the Rixen Little Bro, a system with a much smaller footprint, that hurdle is a thing of the past.
Located at Pleasure Point Marina, the cable park utilizes a permanently located, counter weighted Little Bro system. The counter weights keep the line tension at a maximum. At approximately 500 feet in length, the cable park allows riders of all skill levels to experience cable riding for the first time in Southern California. Liquid Force wakeboards and wakeskates are provided for riders without their own equipment for a small fee. U.S. Coast Guard approved life vests and helmets are required for all riders. At this time there are no sliders or kickers on the course, but there are future plans to add obstacles.
Spectator accessibility to Desi’s cable park may be the only downfall. Riders and spectators must take a ferry boat to the cable park. With only a dock to hold riders and spectators, it is kept to a minimum for safety reasons. At lease that means the lines are minimal when waiting for your turn.
Big Bear Cable Wake Park is operated by Thad Epting, a resident of Big Bear since 1992. Thad got his start as a member of the UC Santa Barbara water ski team. During the summer months the ski team would venture to Big Bear to train for ski competitions. Thad fell in love with the area and the people and never left. Thad has split his time with the water ski school in the spring and summer and training the snow skiing team in the winter.
Located at Holloways Marina and RV Park, the cable park utilizes a portable Rixen Bro in a Box portable system. On the portable system, the cable pylons are weighted down by numerous barrels of water to keep it in position. The Bro in a Box does not utilize a counter-weighted cable system, but the cables are tightened to the proper tension periodically.
The cable is approximately 300 feet across with a flat box on which the more experienced riders can test their skills. Hyperlite wakeboards and wakeskates are available for riders that don’t have their own equipment. U.S. Coast Guard approved life vests and helmets are required for all riders.
The fact that the cable park is located on private land allows them to add obstacles as they see fit. There are a number of obstacles being installed in the near future, including a wall ride and kicker. Quite possibly the biggest advantage of the cable park at Holloways is the location right in the middle of the RV park. This allows for fun for the whole family while camping and makes for quite the spectator experience.
Although the short course makes it difficult to do surface tricks, there is no shortage of aerial maneuvers to be had at the ends of the cable. Future plans include possibly adding a longer cable nearby for the more advance riders. Thad went with a portable system with the hopes that he will be able to use it for a cable snow park in the winter, so it will be interesting to see if that comes to fruition.
One common misconception about wakeboarding in Big Bear is that the water is too cold. Well, I can assure you that you won’t be wearing a full suit in the middle of summer. With the warm air temps and water temps hovering around 73 degrees, customers are in for a very comfortable experience.
It’s great to see that the expansion of cable wakeboarding has begun to creep into California and we have to thank both Desi and Thad for helping to make this happen. Both of Big Bear Lake’s cable park offerings have a lot to offer the wakesports-loving public. Whichever park you choose to visit, you’re bound to come away with a great cable riding experience.