A nationally ranked snowboarder from West Dundee took his skills to the water Monday for a wakeboarding lesson that he says is harder than snowboarding.
Devin Patterson, 13, was one of two teenagers to cruise back and forth from the Broken Oar Marina in Port Barrington, with Keith Duck, owner of Raging Buffalo Wakeboard School and Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park in Algonquin.
"It's fun but really hard to hold on for 15 minutes," says Patterson, who is ranked 14th nationally for his age overall. Patterson has been taking wakeboarding lessons from Duck for three summers, while Xavier Contreras, 17, of Port Barrington, has been being pulled by Duck for five summers. All three say the best part of wakeboarding is simply being in the sun and on the water with friends.
Patterson is working on a single wake jump trick while Contreras has been trying to perfect a two-wake roll, by launching himself off the face the wave created by the boat, flipping, and landing outside the opposite wave, or wake. The hardest part of the trick, says Contreras, is "Just making sure I make it all the way around."
It's better to flip too far than not far enough, says Duck. It took half of last season to learn the trick and he came up short "too many times to count," Contreras said with a smile.
Duck uses boats designed to create different size wakes according to the skill of the wakeboarder. He travels between 18 and 23 mph and uses a tightly wound, non-stretching rope of 60 to 75 feet. Everything is adjustable for his students, who have ranged in age from 3 to 67 in his 11 summers of teaching the sport.
One four-hour session costs $129 and discounts come with the purchase of more sessions. Duck provides on-land and in-water training, which consists of 15-minute trips on the river, and rental boards and bindings if needed. The student just needs to provide a towel, swimwear, and plenty of enthusiasm.
More info can be found at www.ragingbuffalo.com.