Wakeboarding on Lake Murray
SC Rough Riders brings professional wakeboarding to the Midlands
by Camdyn Bruce » Photos SC Rough Riders
Imagine gliding across Lake Murray, the wind blowing through your hair, moving seamlessly across the water as a boat pulls you along on a wakeboard. The adrenaline courses through your veins as the boat picks up speed, and you feel the exhilaration of successfully executing a trick. For Chris Farr, those feelings are commonplace. “It’s such a unique thing to stand sideways behind the boat,” said Farr. “It’s a blast. There’s nothing like it.” Wakeboarding is essentially a combination of snowboarding and waterskiing. The board resembles a snowboard, but like waterskiing the rider performs tricks while holding a rope and being towed behind a boat.
Farr got his start in water sports early and has been hooked ever since. “My first memory of life is water skiing on my dad’s shoulders,” Farr said. Farr’s love for wakeboarding has only grown since getting into the sport as a teen, and in 2004 he and friends Scott Truitt and Adam Trout created the SC Rough Riders with the goal of teaching others about the sport. Since its inception, the organization has held an annual event called Weekend With The Pros. The event brings professional wakeboarders from across the country to Lake Murray to give lessons to local wakeboarders of all skill levels.
Farr, Truitt, and Trout had been saving money to take lessons from a pro wakeboarder in Florida when they discovered that with a little more money, they could have a pro come to them instead. And SC Rough Riders was born. “We were trying to take our riding to the next level and so we got in touch with some pro riders and worked it out for them to come coach us,” said Farr. “To make a full weekend out of it we were looking for other people to split the cost, and that was really how the first Weekend With The Pros got started.”
But you don’t have to bring a pro in from Florida to get started. Phillip Thomas, who’s self-taught, gives lessons for beginners on Lake Murray and highly recommends that beginners get a lesson from an experienced wakeboarder. “Because most of my stuff was self-taught, I had developed bad habits. Once you get to a point where you are doing more flips and things like that, you can’t afford to have those bad habits,” said Thomas. “It makes it nearly impossible to do certain tricks.”
Thomas provides gear for his lessons, however if you’re interested in owning your own, you only need a few things to get started. All that’s required is a wakeboard, a coastguard approved life jacket, and a wakeboard rope. You’ll also need a boat or a good buddy with one to tow you around the water. He said the hardest thing for beginners is learning how to get up. When wakeboarding, you start on your back in the water with the wakeboard at your feet which are strapped to the board’s bindings. From this position, holding the wakeboarding rope as the boat moves forward, you are pulled up, much like on waterskies. But it can be tricky for beginners to keep their balance, or what wakeboarders call, “get up.”
Thomas’s lessons make it a little easier, however, as he uses a headset which allows him to coach the rider in real time. Thomas and the rider both wear a waterproof headset and a mic, and can communicate via radio as Thomas drives the boat. “We can sit there and have a conversation and they can tell me hey you know this feels kind of weird, or hey this is really cool,” said Thomas. If you’re interested in taking wakeboarding lessons from Thomas, you can visit lakemurraywake.com. g