After an inauspicious start with the wetsuit (wrong way round, inside out, wrong way round again, MM crumpling with laughter) we were whisked down a small jetty and into a motor boat, pummelling out across the Camel estuary into the driving rain. The anticipation of crash diving unglamorously into the water at high speed made the precipitation irrelevant.
“OK, don’t squeal,” George recommended as I flopped myself overboard (it wasn’t the Caribbean after all) and embraced the salty waters, wakeboard strapped to my feet like a mono fin. I manoeuvred round and reached up for the metal bar which stuck out from the side of the boat for beginners (stabilisers for the uninitiated) before graduating to the rope off the back of the boat.
Knees bent into my chest, George gently explained how to use the momentum of the boat to pull myself out of the water into a standing position. Board had to be angled with left foot forward, (the most common ‘lead’ foot for most people) and then once up, straightened. As the boat edged forward, the force of the water pushed back against my board and I lurched up, only to dive head first back in. Feet higher into my chest, renewed determination and encouragement from George and attempt two was a repeat of aforementioned unglamorous dive. Third time lucky I thought. I battled against the pressure, steadying the board, all muscles tense and felt the board rise, hit the top of the water and as I leveled it, I was suddenly standing and in all the excitement fell again. Fourth time was indeed lucky and I briefly rode the waters in a giddy moment of triumph, ready for the next stage at the back of the boat.
The rope felt unnervingly skinny in my hands but George reassuringly explained that I was to hold the handle at the end of it, arms bent into my body and legs tucked in as before. I was patiently encouraged and cajoled only to ‘splat’ back down like a weighted weeble; George nimbly whizzed the boat back round to pick me up. MM’s face was a mix of confusion, amusement and enthusiasm. On the third or fourth time however, my battle against the force of the water was finally victorious and I launched myself up into a standing position, the board skimming with ease along the top of the water and I squealed with excitement: like surfing but for cheats! I was zooming along, flying in fact, letting out a couple more shouts and smiles. The sensation was exhilarating and I knew I would have to come back for more.
“Move that way!” shouted George from the back of the boat. It was ‘wake’ boarding after all and the idea is to crisscross the wake of the boat and when you get really good to add in a couple of jumps. “How do I do that?” I shouted. “Move that way!” was the reply. Too chuffed to be upright, I’d leave the ‘wake’ part till next time and as the boat slowed, I reluctantly sank back down: thrilled, sea refreshed, endorphins singing.
Emphasis really is on fun at the Camel Ski School which has great packages for children as well as more competent water users. Lessons are tailored to fit the needs of individuals. Kids can play on the Play Station in between sessions or get balancing on the indoboard, a piece of wood on two cylinders that emulates a surfing/wake boarding position. 15 minutes of wakeboarding will cost you £25 or a £70 for a beginner package which involves a video and several practise attempts. Instructors are qualified, extremely competent and lots of fun, not to mention patiently encouraging. The seemingly short 15 minutes made a lot of sense after you realise the sheer physical exertion required to maintain a standing position. For two days afterwards, my girly arms ached so I strongly recommend doing some warm down exercises and a hot bath post waking.
This was the best workout (and hot chocolate from the Blue Tomato) I have had in a long time, a full body experience of fun in the stunning Camel estuary. Choose from wakeboarding, water skiing, paddle boarding, banana boating or kite surfing. The team also base themselves down at Mylor on certain days of the week.