Ben Leclair is on the road again! Last year it was “Somewhere in Europe” and this year he’s got a deal with Mercedes that is taking him all around Europe once again in search of winch spots and hitting some events along the way. Each week Ben’s going to be checking in with us with a few photos and a little write up of where he’s been.
Week 4 Update
This week we rolled the dice and decided to try to winch in the floods around Paris. The water level had already been up for a week, but it was still raining everyday down there, so packed the van and went! William had to stay in Sweden for a contest, and Antoine got hurt riding cable and could barely walk after hip-checking a rail. Fortunately we had help from our two friends, Kevin and Yann Calvez, who have a wakeboard camp called Wake City on an island just outside of Paris. They got hit really hard by the floods, so we packed up their little boat with boards, camera gear and our kicker and headed over to the island.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when we got there. It was a dream come true, finally being able to ride in the middle of the street, ollie over garbage cans and make turns between houses. The plan was to stay there three to four days until the water level went down before heading to another destination in search of more winch spots. It turned out that we stayed ten days on the island riding rails on houses, wall rides and lines with soccer nets in the street. Everyday the water level would go down and new things to ride would start popping up. I ran out the house every morning with my wetsuit to search for new stuff to ride. There was so much to do but we knew the water level was going down fast, so we had to set priorities and pick the right things to ride. Those were long days in the rain – setting up kickers, rails and adjusting the winch to have the perfect pull to make good lines. It was definitely the most effort I’ve ever put into filming a wakeboarding video.
Winching needs a lot of preparation and time, but it’s so rewarding in the end. I had to hit some spots three days in a row to get the shot how I wanted. I was coming through a narrow walking path between houses and had the kicker placed in on the right. I had to ride as close as I could to a fence on the left side, with a quick last second edge to launch on top of a ten-foot high wooden hand rail on the balcony of a house with a close out. At first it was good, but the weather was horrible to film so we left it for the next day. When I came back to ride it the next day the kicker was out of place because the water level had came down, and a fence had popped up and was pushing it to the middle. I had to set the kicker further out and start all over again. After hitting it a couple of times it wasn’t really working out because I couldn’t edge hard enough to really get on top of the rail. I had to move the direction the winch was pulling to be more towards the house, but it made it much more dangerous to run into the close out section at the end. We passed the rope through the top of a tree and it pulled me right on top of the rail. It was a hard battle, but we got the shots and I was super stoked on the results. Once it was set up perfectly, Ian wanted to give it a go but got absolutely punted when he didn’t go high enough to reach the rail. He ended up hitting his hands on the porch before clipping into a fence in the landing. He walked it off with minor injuries to his hand, and we decided to call it off there.
Riding in this type of terrain needs a lot of visualizing before riding; the little errors that could happen on a cable can be much worse in the streets. Super shallow landing with asphalt at the bottom is quite different than your average cable park. We had a good team really well-prepared with the equipment, which was the key to being efficient and taking full advantage of the floods.
We are still working on my video section from this adventure, but I can’t wait to show everyone what an amazing time I had riding this. I can’t thank the Calvez brothers and their friends enough for all the hours they put in with us. Thanks also for all the good times and great dinners we had on the island. If you ever want to check out the most amazing wakeboard camp in Paris, Wake City is the place to ride boat in perfect conditions!
Now I’m flying back home to Canada for the summer, and hopefully the fun continues on with how we left it in Europe!