With the economy in dire straights and the recent election there’s been a lot of talk about the need for change. The idea of change is exciting for some, but I for one have never handled it well. I remember being sent to the school counselor once in third grade because I had a minor breakdown when our teacher rearranged our seats in the classroom. Needless to say when the cats that I ride with started suggesting it was time for me to switch to a new board, it did not sit well with me.
If you’re anything like me you’ve learned to wakeskate by riding with guys and your first board was a hand-me-down of whatever your best bud was riding at the time. For me, that board was a Hyperlite Catalyst 2.0. That thing was like an island under my feet: 42” long, wide, easy to pop, and big enough that it was forgiving on skate tricks. Not to mention it’s sentimental value – not only was it a gift from an ex-boyfriend, but on a trip to the Dominican Republic we had spent an entire afternoon covering the board rails with paint pens. But as much as I loved that thing, I had progressed about as far as I could with it. I had learned almost every possible variation of a shuv and for the life of me, I could not spin that board 360 degrees. And that’s why my friends started getting on my case.
Jen Gilanfarr told me the board was no good for learning wake to wake cause it kept attacking me in the face with its sharp edges every time I would fall. And Steph Wamsley gave me some speech that I tried really hard to ignore about the need for progression and how I owed it to the sport of women’s wakeskating to get a new board. Trust me I spent months ignoring their nagging until one day my board mysteriously disappeared off of the back of the boat. Jen said it was a sign from God that I needed to try new boards. Personally I think my board is floating in the bushes somewhere out in Chuluota and if Jen weren’t such an honest Christian, I’d say she had a hand in it’s finding it’s way there.
Regardless I started trying anyone and everyone’s boards who came on the boat with us. Eventually I found one I liked- the Oak Chubby. Only 39” long and made of wood, it’s smaller, lighter, and way easier for me to spin than the old board. But it’s an impressive 15.8” wide and has the same reassuring feeling of something sturdy under my feet. I can pop it higher, spin it easier, and hitting the wake is a lot less scary and comes more naturally. So what I am trying to say here is, Jen, Steph, Meg, Cassie, TJ, and everyone else who told me it was time to move forward, you were right.
Why am I writing an entire article just to let them know they were right? Well I think all girls (and guys) can learn something from my experience. First off, it’s great to get free gear and hand-me-downs, but once your riding reaches a certain level try to find the board that fits you best. Go to your local shop and use their demo boards. Borrow your friends’ boards. Ask the pros for their advice and shop around. The holidays are coming up so if you figure out which one you like soon you might not have to pay for it yourself (***hint hint parents, friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends: boards make great gifts!!!!) But even more importantly: Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. You will never get anywhere in life if you are afraid of change. Change and progression go hand in hand. Like fried chicken and waffles.