Daybreak: That Feeling

The relationship between wakeboarders and glassy water is a strange ­connection of sorts — almost inexplicable and usually everlasting. Yes, it may fade over time, but the feeling never stops. You might go months or even years without gliding across a body of ripple-free water, but as soon as you see one, you think about it. You think about riding. You’re a wakeboarder.

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DaybreakBryan Soderlind

The stillness of it is at times both isolating and consuming. You feel alone, but never uncomfortable. In fact, you might be more comfortable among this stillness than anything else. There is the familiarity of where you’ve been ­combined with the potential of where you could go. The glass holds the keys to both the memory vault and the progression charts, but ultimately none of that matters in the here and now. Tricks can wait. Crashes will come. For now, it’s just you and ­nothing but calm water as far as the eye can see. Your mind is both calm and racing at the same time. You’re a wakeboarder.

As you slide into the liquid reflections, you almost feel bad for breaking the surface. Almost. Then the boat slips into gear, and the engine’s rumble breaks the silence, or the cable fires up and the line begins to go tight. You start to focus a bit more. If you’re not smiling outwardly, you’re grinning from ear to ear on the inside. The strong connection is being reaffirmed, and you’re not even riding yet. The rope ­slowly winds through your fingertips, and you start to think about the feeling. It’s a feeling you’ve tried to describe a thousand times to others, but words just don’t seem to do it justice. You can’t explain it because you can really only feel it. You’re a wakeboarder.

The line pulls tight, and you ­instinctively let your board rise to the surface and get on plane. You’re riding and you’re not even thinking anymore. Quickly, you’re on edge and out on the untouched glass. No, the feeling can’t be described. You sink a rail and drag your fingers through the reflections of themselves, then pop back up ­toward the wake to throw up a wall of ­water. Back and forth, edge to edge, over and over. It never gets old. You almost feel bad for taking the first run from your friends. Almost. You’re a wakeboarder.

No matter how sore or tired we might be, no matter how cold or unmotivated or distracted we are at the time, it still reels us in. It always does. It’s the proverbial worm dangling in front of us. “Come and get me,” it seems to say. And, of course, we bite. We always do. We can’t help ourselves. It’s a relationship that will never end — a feeling that will never be matched. We’re wakeboarders.