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Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
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Arts & Culture

Surfing Wakes and Fakes in SA

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Photo: Courtesy Photo, License: N/A

Courtesy Photo

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It is not often when I’m working that I give out an audible “WOOOOO frickin’ HOOOOOO!” But that’s pretty much what I did when I was asked to try out the facilities at Texas Ski Ranch and the new FlowRider Wave Machine at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort. Score!

The Texas Ski Ranch is 70 acres of awesomeness located in New Braunfels. Known as a cable park, there are three different cable systems (and a boat lake which I did not get to do ... this time) that let people of all ages and skill levels wakeboard like champs.

You can sign up for private lessons (the cost is $89 per person per hour), which I would recommend if you are a n00b like me. Once you fill out the standard waiver form, you get fitted for a safety helmet and life jacket and then you pick out your board.

The beginner cables hurl you a billion miles an hour ... or something less than that ... across the water, which is an incredible sensation. One recommendation, if you lose your board, let go of the dang cable! You don’t want to get dragged sans board across the water; it is neither a good time nor recommended. For more experienced boarders, there are ramps and other structures for jumping and tricks—imagine a skatepark on water.

Aside from the water sports, there is a chance to skateboard (on land), snowboard, climb a rock wall and bounce in a trampoline park. There’s also a Wahoo’s Fish Tacos on site. Visit for more information.

If you like your fun in an even more controlled, but arguably even more novel environment, allow me to introduce you to the FlowRider Wave Machine. Located on the lush grounds of the Hyatt Hill Country Resort, this bad boy is what they call a wave simulator. It gives participants the thrill of shooting the curl and hanging 10 without the hours’ long drive and seaweed morass that is the Texas coast in summer.

I was excited to try the FlowRider since surfing is on my bucket list somewhere between drinking a Guinness in Dublin and visiting Legoland. (Don’t judge, it’s my bucket list.) Sessions are booked by the hour and cost $35 per person; there is also a $15 one-time registration fee.

The Hyatt recommends you show up 15-30 minutes ahead of time to fill out a waiver form and watch a short instructional video. I was there an hour early—I was that excited. You can book a private tutorial, but since the Hyatt was kind enough to comp my visit, I was included in the regular summer group.

I and a group of eight other kids (yes, kids, who were also way better at this than I was) and one other adult were given instructions on how to navigate the 40,000 gallons of water being driven up the surf machine at a rate of about 18,000 gallons per minute on our boogie boards. The first go around was fun and only 20,000 of those gallons of water were driven up my nose.

After my first round, I was ready for surfing. My instructor/personal lifeguard Mateo had the surfer vibe down. He guaranteed with a few more lessons that I would be shredding waves like a pro. I am not quite sure about that, as I bit it hard after only a few seconds each time I got up on the board. But, for those few glorious seconds, I surfed.

Everyone (well, everyone over 3’5” tall, since that’s the required height) should do this. It’s phenomenally fun. For more information, visit

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