Yes, this is what it looks like: someone doing a Raley being pulled by a $200,000 excavator. How’d they come up with the idea? How does it work? Where’d they find that perfect lake? We had all these questions at first glance of this makeshift wake park, so we caught up with Kiteboarder Patrick Rebstock to figure out how and why they made this happen.
Rebstock: We call it tractoring. It is the result of a windless week and our desire to find any way to ride.
We had just finished the construction of our new slider and could not wait to hit it. Then the weather pattern changed, forecasting a large high-pressure system that would block all our central California wind. We were all sitting around trying to figure out a way to ride, but we didn’t have a boat or a jet ski or a winch so we started getting creative.
My friend Zac Baxter got the idea to use one of his parents’ old irrigation ponds, fill it up with water, build an island in the middle and use his dad’s excavation company’s brand new $200,000 Cat excavator to drive out into the middle and fling us around in circles.
We would just tie a wakeboarding handle to the bucket and spin the tractor in circles to keep us going. We thought it was the stupidest and most dangerous idea any of us had come up with, but with the chance that it might work we had to try it.
We got to work with the excavator and started to fill up the lake, which took a couple of days even with a well that was designed for the purpose.
When we finally got water in the lake, we drove the digger out into the middle, tied on a handle, set the idle speed on the digger low to make it spin at the right speed for riding and then put a board on and yelled hit it!
We had no idea how it would work or if we were going to die, but we were amazed at how fun it turned out to be. It provided just the right amount of pull and had loads of pop. If you set your speed high enough you could pop a Raley and stay horizontal from the centripetal acceleration of the tractor swinging in a circle.
We had just made ourselves a homemade cable park.
The hardest part was trying to convince Zac’s dad to let us use his 200k Digger for wakeboarding, just imagine getting asked that question!
We would just switch off driving the tractor and riding. It was perfect. The lake was perfect so you could ride in big circles, but sometimes you hit the bank. We had to be really careful because you were riding underneath a very large piece of heavy machinery.
I guess the perfect conditions were days that didn’t have any wind and you still wanted to have a great day on the water, and with the lights on the tractor you could ride at night, which was cool.
It was just a really crazy idea we had to try.