By Guy Robertson
(Published July, 2000, Utah Outdoors magazine)
WOW, we are talking mega big-time air!”
That wake-board talk came during a rare opportunity to participate in one of the greatest shows on earth, and this time at nowhere else than the stimulating waters of Lake Powell.
Nathan Richins and Paul Christensen of T.I.B. Wake Board School completely rocked our world Memorial Day weekend in Halls Creek Bay. I have seen some of the best water sport entertainers in my days, but never anything like this! These guys make rolls, twists, spins, flips and just plain hardcore extreme acrobatic maneuvers look like a walk in the park. What a treat to have the two best wake boarders in the region onboard entertaining that day.
Lake Powell has a huge variety of recreation amenities available to choose from, ranging from endless adventure hikes to high action water sports and everything in between. On Memorial Day weekend you can see it all.
Utah Outdoors invited these two showoffs down that week to show what a fun and exciting sport wake boarding can be. We had several different boats to play with equipped with all the latest and greatest in wake board essentials. When you are as good as these two, all the big companies chase you around with sponsorships and supplies, loading you up with all the new high-tech fancy gear.
We had a great time trying new and different ways to film these guys. They were serious extremists that day, and behind their Toyota tournament boat they pulled off every trick known to the wake board community, including canyon runs (which are not recommended for the average boater and riders). What a show!
But somehow that still wasn’t enough, so we came up with an even crazier idea: Let’s tie the rope to the radar arch of a 31-foot Carver yacht.
This boat has about 600 horsepower with a twin dual prop system — that’s four props pushing its massive hull — and the rope tie-up point was about 13 feet above the water line with a mean 4-foot wake following it.
At first I thought, “This is insane, these boys are going to be launched to the moon” (which, by the way, was up that day).
I looked back at Nate and he was grinning from ear to ear. I knew we were in for a showdown. He yelled “hit it,” and in a matter of seconds he was up and glaring at the “Hawaii Five-O”-type wakes. He later told me he had surfed on smaller wakes.
He popped off to one side and made his first big cut. When he hit that enormous wake it launched him above the top of the radar arch. He was a good 18 feet in the air, and all we could hear was screaming as he hung up there, landing at least 20 feet beyond the other side of the wake. Never in all my 40 years of boating had I witnessed such a grand performance! It took my breath away just watching.
I could not imagine how it must have felt on his end. It just added fuel to his fire, and he started throwing all kinds of “ big-air” stunts, the kind of stuff you usually only see on extreme video games.
Nate’s partner, Paul, was chasing us filming in the Toyota, and we had full radio contact. All he kept yelling was, “Oh my gosh, I have never seen air that big! He is going off !” Those are pretty strong statements coming from a lifetime wake boarder. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was getting very envious. He wanted some of that wake for his own. But there was no getting Nate off the board. I don’t know where his stamina was coming from. He must have been in some kind of shock. It was hours before we wore him out.
Chomping at the bit, Paul finally got his turn. He had the very same look on his face as Nate had had as I pushed down the throttles again. His eyes were open so wide we could see the whites in them all the way from the boat.
Paul has a bit smaller frame than Nate, so he had to be extra careful when he came in contact with that mammoth oversized wake. It could have been a new lunar launching site.
Excitement filled the air as he made his first approach. It was like watching it all in slow motion. The tip of the board started its generous uphill acceleration, and as the board’s back lip left the water I knew it was hang time in the biggest way. That boy experienced air that would make Michael Jordan jealous. It was so big — I would say an easy 20-foot upward launch — he threw the rope in mid-air. Wow! That even scared me. We were fortunate no one got hurt. These two guys are simply incredible. What a great spectator sport.
This went on until we all ran out of film — we had three still cameras and two digital video cameras going all at once, and 20 rolls of film later the consensus was to stop while we were ahead. The event was a major success.
That night we camped up Moki Canyon. We laughed and enjoyed reminiscing over the day’s craziness. Another fantastic Lake Powell adventure had come to an end. This was one trip we all will never forget.
All of us want to give special thanks to the crew at Utah Outdoors, all the rad clothing manufacturers who participated, Marine Products Pro Shop, Toyota Tournament Ski Boats, Hyperlite Wake Boards and Local Oceans for the use of their Carver. Without the combined efforts of all of the above this event would not have been possible.
Randy Casper, owner and operator of Marine Products Pro Shop, has put a great deal of energy into the Intermountain water sport market and sponsors many events around the region. What a great way to get new people involved in the sport. I can’t think of a better way to teach young people a fun and positive way to enjoy their summers.
Both Nate and Paul play key roles in all of this, too, and I have been told by many that their wake board and water-skiing school is one of the best in the country. They have a very high success rate, with people lining up to get a chance to learn from the best.