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24 Jul 2010

Once more into the wake – As I wrote in my last entry, two weeks ago we went wakeboarding on the Han River. We had a great time, but Hyunjin wasn’t up for very long, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before she wanted to try again. In fact, she wanted to go last weekend, but the rainy season finally decided to live up to its name and it poured. There was also the matter of a small injury I sustained during our first outing.

“Before long she looked like a natural.”

I didn’t mention this is in my last entry, partly out of denial and partly because I was just annoyed at having gotten injured, but I think I bruised one of my ribs. I have no idea how it happened, but somehow it did happen, and it has been a nuisance for the past two weeks. But it didn’t hurt as much as it had last week, and yesterday morning I got down in the ready position and had Hyunjin pull me up (to simulate getting pulled up on a wakeboard) and it seemed OK. I wasn’t sure if I was risking further injury by going wakeboarding again, but I was getting tired of sitting around.

We took the bus and then the subway down to Ttukseom Resort (which is a small waterpark on the northern bank of the Han River), and from there we walked about fifteen minutes east to the windsurfing/wakeboarding area. As we neared the place, we were startled to see a gaggle of at least a dozen or so children with life vests on. For a moment we thought that they might be joining us for wakeboarding, but it turns out they were there for a different program. Unlike our session two weeks ago, it was just the two of us and our instructor.

Our instructor gave us some quick brush-up instructions—instructions on getting up for Hyunjin and instructions on turning for me—and then we did some stretching before going out (something that we neglected to do last time). When we got out into the middle of the river, Hyunjin strapped on the board and went over the side of the boat. On her first try she failed to get up, but I could tell that she was close. Sure enough, on her second try she got up and really started wakeboarding. She was up for maybe twenty seconds before she fell, which is pretty impressive for a first time. On her next try she stayed up even longer, and her form quickly improved. Before long she looked like a natural. And I even have photographic evidence!

That’s right, this time we brought our camera. The lighting was not the best, as you can see, and that made it hard to take clear photos, but we did manage to get some good shots. I think I actually took this shot during Hyunjin’s second session (we each had a few runs, then a break, then a few more runs each), which is probably why she looks so stable.

After Hyunjin’s first session it was my turn, and I strapped on the board and went over the side. I forgot all about my rib as soon as I hit the water. After days of extremely hot weather, yesterday was suddenly cooler, and the water felt a lot colder than it did two weeks ago. Soon enough, though, the boat took off and I was out of the water. After a while it felt like I had worked out the kinks, so I decided to try some turns. The key is not to pull (with your arms) but to lean (with your body) and cut through the water with the edge of the board. Going heelside (or left, for a right-handed wakeboarder) is fairly easy, because it feels a lot more natural to lean back on your heels, and the heelside position is what you start in when you first get up. Toeside (or right), on the other hand, does not feel natural at all, and I find it a lot harder to do properly. Still, I’ve got the basics down, I think.

That photo probably looks very similar to Hyunjin’s photo, and I suppose it is in terms of composition, but I’m actually outside the wake there, currently turning toeside after having gone out wide heelside. After a few runs of practicing these turns, I thought I would try to get some air off of the wake. It might have actually been right after this photo, for all I know, because I was going toeside into the wake. As I hit the top of the wake I jumped up and did indeed manage to get some air. Unfortunately, I also managed to spin the board around 180 degrees, and when I came down I was at an angle leaning forward. The toeside edge went into a wave and I did a pretty solid faceplant into the water. As everyone knows, time seems to slow down in certain situations, and I remember wondering as the water rapidly rose to meet my face how badly it was going to hurt my rib. Fortunately, when I came up for air, I found that the rib didn’t hurt at all (or any worse than it already did, I should say).

All in all, we had a very good day. Hyunjin improved quite rapidly, and I didn’t suffer any pain from my rib. It’s the day after now, and even though we’re both a little sore, we’re not nearly as sore as we were last time, and my rib seems to be no worse for the wear. That’s encouraging, because even though it will take a while to fully heal, at least I know that I can be fairly active now and not have to worry about hurting it. Somehow that makes it feel like it hurts less.

Finally, I have a short video to share with you. It’s not the best quality, and there’s a lot of shaking, especially at the beginning—the video I shot of Hyunjin was zoomed in so the shake is much more pronounced—but it should give you an idea of what it was like. The first half of the video is Hyunjin and the second half is me, and the photo at the end is me getting into the boat after my last run (with our instructor, of course). Rather than trying to embed the video, I’m just going to link to it: Wakeboarding on the Han.

Already I’m looking forward to our next session, which will be next Friday. Once I get the toeside turn down, our instructor says he’s going to teach me how to switch my stance.

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