Wake Crew: Nor Cal
I’ll never forget the day I first started wakeboarding. I was invited by a friend who had been riding for a while. I had been surfing for more than eleven years at that point, so I knew I was going to dazzle them with my skills as soon as I hit the water. Yeah, it was nothing like that.
First of all, I had these tight boot things strapped to my feet, and when I fell they stayed on my feet. I tried to fight the boat instead of letting it pull me up because I just assumed that was how it was done. And the next day I could barely move. I was sore in places I didn’t know existed.
As my obsession continued, I bought my first boat. The only problem was that I didn’t have a crew of riders to come out with me yet. In California, you need at least two other people in the boat in order to ride; one to drive and one to flag. So back in the day my “crew” consisted of my mom and my dad. I can’t stop laughing about it when I think back on those days because we had to have been the biggest kooks out on the water.
My parents had no idea how to drive a boat nor did they know when to put up the flag, but they were always my number one supporters. My dad had to have been the worst drive ever and my mom would freak out when I fell down after trying wake to wake jumps. On the other hand, she had no problem letting me surf in shark-infested waters since the age of nine. Go figure.
After riding for a while, I began to meet other wakeboarders who invited me to be part of their unofficial “crew.” It wasn’t until I rode less with my parents and more with a crew of people who knew what they were doing that I realized there are some things that make life a lot easier, and that includes having a solid crew of riders who make your day on the water that much more memorable. Not only do they help satisfy the driver and flagger requirement, but they offer support, encouragement, guidance and endless fun. These days, people like this can be called Wake Crews.
Wake Crews can vary in size from three people to however many can safely fit in the boat. A good crew is sort of like a community co-op in that everyone knows what is needed to maintain a boat like dropping it in the water, wiping it down after we all ride, helping riders get their gear from the racks, handling rope duties, flying the flag when needed and keeping the boat in good shape so the driver invites you back out again. A good crew has an unspoken flow about them because everyone has a role. The boat owner should never be stuck with the gas bill, filling up sacks, driving or cleaning. There are so many different Wake Crews, so I wanted to start to expose them from their roots.
My first point of contact was with Al Marchiniak, a long-time wakeboarder from Sacramento and also the brainchild of Spanky Beaver, a rail contest hosted in a community swimming pool that’s been going strong since 2006. I've known Mr. Marchiniak for a while now and I knew he had a good crew of riders, so I headed inland to photograph and film Al’s Wake Crew. I assumed we’d be heading to the Delta or Sacramento River, but instead he gave me a secret address and said we’d be meeting at “The Hideout.” I also had a killer hookup I’d been dying to use who shot video footage with remote control helicopters, so I had more than one reason to be stoked about this trip.
Well, curiosity killed the cat and I could barely wait to find out more about this Hideout spot. On the day of the shoot, I realized that it being a secret spot was not an exaggeration. It was literally hidden among corn fields and hay farms and it was almost impossible to find it, even with an address and directions. I had a hard time believing this was a legitimate wakeboarding spot and I figured the guys were pulling a fast one on me. Just as I was beginning to doubt the entire shoot, the scene came into view and I got my first glimpse of this man-made piece of paradise.
Where do I begin? The Hideout is a private lake that was built by a father whose son had a passion for wakeboarding. The lake is situated on their hay farm and it took them more than a year to dig out the lake using machinery he used on the farm. He spent over $70,000 in diesel fuel and another $70k just to haul the dirt out. Enter Al Marchiniak, who helped construct and place rails throughout. I have been to quite a few private lakes, but this one takes the cake. It’s the ultimate wakeboarder’s playground!
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Al and Brodie Chaboya. Brodie is a well-known Nor Cal wakeboarder that also has a knack for being fantastically entertaining and full of surprises. As we unloaded my car, more of Al’s Wake Crew pulled up, which consisted of Drew Glickman, Tyler Hinz, Brian Austerman, Ryan Watkins, Colt Hardesty, Anton Ryzenkov and Cameron Brown. They were a pretty good sized crew of riders with amazing talent. Sean and Mike from Immersive showed up with the drone remote control helicopters and were ready to shoot aerial video footage of the group.
As if there aren’t a hundred killer things about owning a private lake, one of the greatest parts is that not everyone has to be on the boat at one time. While one rider would be out with the driver, the rest of the crew was enjoying frosty beverages under the palapa or launching off the rope swing while their girlfriends were tanning on the sandy beach. If I lived in the area, I would pay a monthly fee to be part of this crew. The vibe was chill and the talent each one had was inspiring.
Throughout the day more and more people started showing up at the Hideout. All of us were confused as to how they found it, but Brodie knew what was up. Apparently, he invited people over to have a party with a DJ table and all…classic Brodie style.
Fortunately, we had planned earlier in the day to check out Nor Cal’s new cable park, Wake Island, to do some cable riding, so we gathered the Wake Crew and headed over. We arrived shortly before closing, so it wasn't too crowded and the crew got plenty of riding in. You could tell that all of these guys have spent some time at the cable park, especially Anton, who is an employee of the park. I have a suspicion that his lunch break is spent riding instead of eating.
As the day came to an end, Sean decided to fly his helicopter for a couple more runs and suddenly we heard “Oh no!” followed by a loud SPLASH! There goes his helicopter. One of the blades from the drone came loose, so the entire thing fell in the water. My friend, Kenny, dove down fully clothed and was able to retrieve it with the GoPro still attached, but, unfortunately, it did not have a waterproof case on it at the time. I think anyone else would have cried, but Sean took it well and was super mellow about it. Fortunately, Sean was able to save both the drone and the GoPro after it all dried up. It’s always on the last run of the day when all the accidents happen, right?
I had a killer day hanging out with this Wake Crew, and I look forward to our next adventure in paradise…as long as Brodie hasn’t already listed it on Google Maps.