Tag Archive for: wakeboarding koh phangan

Wake Up! Wakeboarding Koh Phangan turns ten

11 Dec
December 11, 2015

As another season comes to an end I find myself reflecting on what has now become a full decade living on this magical island of Koh Phangan.  Casting my mind back to the days of my permanent move out here 10 years ago, it seems like another lifetime or even a whole different person that packed up his bags, jumped on a plane and left the UK behind him for a new life on the tropical shores of Thailand.  Back then I was young, naïve and thought I knew it all, I was shortly about to find out many things about myself that I never knew I had in me.

sunset5 years earlier I first came backpacking in Thailand and South East Asia.  I immediately fell in love with the country
but particularly the island of Koh Phangan.  I experienced freedom I had never known in western societies and I knew then I had found my home.  The people were so friendly and relaxed, the travelling and lifestyle were inexpensive and the weather, compared to the drizzly grey of England was a factor that ensured I never looked back after stepping off the plane.  I remember after that 14 month trip around Asia, the feeling of returning to the grey skies of England and knowing right there at Heathrow airport that I would not stay long in Europe.

It took me 3 years to save enough money to finally move away from the UK and when that time came it felt like being released from a long prison sentence.  I was going ‘home’ for good.  I had spent every minute of the last 3 years thinking about this time and what I was going to do when I arrived.  I was still young enough that I allowed my mind to wander into all kinds of impractical ideas for a business and without giving it too much thought I decided to follow my heart and work doing something I loved, which was wakeboarding.

Wake Up! Wakeboarding Koh Phangan was born

I had made my choice and now was the time to turn an impractical idea into a thriving business on this small hippy BabyJamieisland of Koh Phangan.  Back in those days it was much quieter than it is now, there was a handful of western run businesses and the tourism consisted mostly of backpackers and low-budget travellers similar to myself during my trip around South East Asia.  I had plenty of experience in wakeboarding and teaching, but I had never run a business before.  Even if I had experience, it probably wouldn’t have done me much good out here as business and social etiquette is very different to the regimented western style that us farang are familar with.  I had to learn fast and adapt to the wild west style of business that existed here on the island.

I soon found that the friendly locals were not always so friendly when it came to business, I say this not to reflect badly on them as I soon learned to see our differing business styles as a cultural difference and not a personal attack.  Even when my first business experience nearly saw me having my boat stolen by the friends I had chosen to partner up with, I 26991_1360467406370_3792250_nlearned to let it go and not turn a disagreement into a war that as a foreigner I would certainly have lost.  Saving face is a big part of Thai culture and it is never wise to show your emotions in any business or social disagreement.  Instead, I used it as a learning experience on how business is conducted on the island.  My so-called ‘bad’ experience is now one of my favorite stories of my initiation to the island of Koh Phangan, but I will leave that tale for another time as it deserves its own post 🙂  Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger so they say and in this instance that was certainly the case.

Now 10 years on I am thankful for every up and down I have experienced while living and doing business here.  My business continues to grow and more importantly I still love my life, my job, this wonderful island of Koh Phangan and all the people who have found themselves living here.  The local Thai people have made me feel at home and welcomed me into their community and I am so grateful to speak their language, which has allowed me to get to know them on a much deeper personal level than being just another white face on the tourist bus.  I hope I have many more years of excitement and adventure whilst living here and judging by the first 10 years I can’t see it being any other way. Here’s to the next decade of wakeboarding in Koh Phangan!

Beginners Guide: What is Wakesurfing?

07 Dec
December 7, 2015

If you are new to water sports, you might hear the words wakesurfing and wakeboarding and wonder if they are the same thing. While wakesurfung is similar to wakeboarding in some ways, there are several major differences in terms of equipment, method and technique. Even seasoned wakeboarders need to bear these differences in mind when they decide to try wakesurfing, but don’t worry, we at Wake UP! Wakesurfing Koh Phangan are here to help you get up and riding in no time.

11081228_10153138036848328_3219824475731158769_nHere’s a quick introduction to wakesurfing to get you started:

The most obvious difference between wakeboarding and wakesurfing is the method. In wakeboarding, the rider is pulled by the boat via a tow rope while a wakesurfer only uses a tow rope to get them started on the wave. Once a wakesurfer is up and on the wake, they drop the rope and ride freely on the wave, much like ocean surfing. Look! No hands!

Wakesurfing is popular with surfers because the wave doesn’t just end and wash you up on the shore after those exhilarating few moments. An ocean wave usually lasts for between 5 and 30 seconds, then the surfer has to paddle back out to catch the next one. A wakesurfer can ride for as long as the boat keeps providing the wave, or as long as they can stay up. Despite all this, it was a long time before wakesurfing became a distinct sport in its own right. Until the 80’s and 90’s, wakesurfing was very much a fun experiment by ocean surfers. Over time, it has evolved and become a hugely popular sport outside of traditional surfing. The other advantage is that you don’t actually need to be near the sea to do it. Many wakesurfing spots are inland in lakes. We just happen to be lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful, warm, azure waters here so wakesurfing in Koh Phangan is enjoyed right off the stunning sandy beaches.

We have two boats at Wake Up! Both are suitable for wakeboarding but we favour the MasterCraft for wakesurfing- not just because it has a cool name either. MasterCraft is the most well recognised (and popular) brand for wakesurfing, water skiing and wakeboarding. As well as good quality and high-performance, an important thing to look out for is a boat that can be weighted heavily towards the back. The weight helps create the wake and we do this with ballast in the form of water in the onboard ballast system and extra containers filled with sand to create a nice fat wave.

Another nice little difference is that compared to wakeboarding, wakesurfing happens much closer to the boat. This makes it more sociable as your friends can sit at the back of the boat and chat to you while you ride- hopefully with words of encouragement, but that depends on the friends.

Wakesurfing continues to grow in popularity as more people realise how much fun it is and how easy it is to get up and riding if you have a little professional tuition. If you would like to try wakesurfing in Koh Phangan, contact us to make a booking or to find out more. We are happy to answer any questions and look forward to hearing from you.

PS- Watch this space for the next article in which we explain some of the basics on wakesurfing techniques!