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Cable Wakeboarding in Belfast – Have an Urban Adventure!

Posted on May 15, 2014 @ 3:07 PM in Adventure

Living in Belfast I always thought any adventures on the water were restricted to a trip to the North Coast, Fermanagh Lakelands or Strangford Lough however with Cable and Wake setting up a wakeboarding site in possibly one of the coolest locations in Belfast, at the end of the famous Titanic Slipway, it turns out you can get your watersports fix right in the heart of the city. 

When the opportunity came up to head to Cable and Wake I and my colleague Philip jumped at the chance.  Keen beans we were ready to become fully fledged wakeboarders and bring back tales of glory of our ‘sick’ moves to the office but secretly we were really thinking are we even going to be able to get up on our skis?!  

Cable skiing or wakeboarding is a way to water ski or wakeboard, in which the skier's rope and handle are pulled by an electrically-driven cable, instead of a motorboat. The only site in Northern Ireland Cable and Wake was also home to the inaugural All-Ireland Cable Wakeboarding Championships in 2013.

(Clockwise from top; me getting suited and booted; Johnny and Philip outside Cable and Wake HQ; Johnny on the controls with Titanic Studios in the background; Me ready to get going!)

Walking past the iconic Titanic Building we arrived to Cable and Wake’s pimped out trailer at the end of the slipway where Johnny and Samantha proud owners and accomplished wakeboarders were ready to welcome us.  Having messed around on the water-skis in my teens I knew it would be fun but wondered how different it would be to being behind a boat.  

Admittedly it wasn’t the warmest of days however we were soon kitted out in head to toe neoprene which kept us toasty the entire session.  Ready to rock Johnny took us through a dry run on land to get to grips with the basics and learn the dos and don’t’s of 'Wakeboarding 101'. A member of the Irish Wakeboard Team it was safe to say we were getting coached by the best.  As this was our first time on the cable we both started on water skis to get the feel with the plan of progressing to wakeboarding if we managed to not completely embarrass ourselves! 

Always the gentleman Philip insisted I should be first to hit the water – a cunning tact so he could watch my inevitable mistakes and make sure he didn’t make them himself. Once in the water the location really came to life with the Titanic Studios, home to the Game of Thrones set, iconic Harland & Wolf Cranes, and Titanic building all surrounding me. Prepared to fall on my face I started making my excuses early in order to set the bar low.  Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised (as was Philip!) to find myself up and gliding along the water first time - maybe not quite looking like a pro but up nonetheless.  A not so elegant face plant soon brought me back to reality as I came to the end of the line at which point I took a mental note to work on stopping gracefully. A ridiculous smile on my face and with cheers of enthusiasm from the guys on the dock I couldn’t wait to get going again. 

(L-R: Philip smiling for the camera; Me with my audience; Skiing on Belfast Lough)

One great thing about the cable was that since you don’t have to wait for the boat to circle around and get back into position when you purposely stop (otherwise known as falling) a lot more boarding can be fitted into the space of time making it perfect for beginners.  Johnny was in control of the cable and was able to bring it back to me so thankfully no frantic swimming was required.  Also with no noisy motorboat engines it was easier to hear instruction throughout the session as opposed to the futile shouts of ‘arms straight…ARMS STRAIGHT!’ that normally happen when behind a boat. After a few tips on my technique it was time to get going again.  Once my confidence was up Johnny was able to increase the speed of the cable. It wasn’t long before I had an audience from a passing boat tour so hopefully I provided some extra entertainment for them even if this was in the form of them laughing at me!   

As is the case for most waterskiing or wakeboarding beginner lessons the session lasted fifteen minutes on the water however both Philip and I were pleasantly surprised by what we managed to accomplish in a relatively short space of time with his first go also a success.  Although you don’t need a group to book it was great going with someone else as you could watch and take any tips on board for yourself from the docks as well as acting as official photographer.  I couldn’t recommend the experience more for anyone wanting to do something completely different in the city or for any water sports fans who don’t have access to a speed boat for a tow.  We both can’t wait to get back down to Cable and Wake to progress to the wakeboard.  Although 360 flips might elude us for a while the cable really comes into its own for those wanting to get more air to try new tricks and perfect technique. 

Once changed and saying our goodbyes Samantha and Johnny informed us the bid is on to get cable wakeboarding into the Olympics.  2024 here we come…That should be enough time for us to qualify, right Philip?!

(How it should be done!)

Activity Provider:
Cable and Wake




Sarah attended the ‘Have a Go’ Cable Wakeboarding at Titanic Slipways. A beginner taster session suitable for all ages from 8 years. No experience needed. Sessions are available to book all year round weather dependent.  One on one coaching sessions are also available to wakeboarders wanting to step it up a level and improve their technique.  Sessions can be booked for fifteen minutes, 30 minutes or one hour. 

Cost: £20 

Gift Vouchers for this experience are available to buy online at OutdoorNI.com


Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

1 comment has been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Samantha on May 16, 2014 @ 7:57 PM

Awesome write up Sarah! You guys did so well, hopefully see you both again soon! :)

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