15th July 2016
Earlier this year we visited Si Cudlip & Faye Young in the stunning Austrian Alps and if you missed part one of their snowboarding story, here’s a brief recap...
During the winter months, their Bailey Brindisi allows them to spend the entire season – November to April – in a campsite close to the resort. A caravan can cope with far more than a fortnight in the sun, and thanks to Grade 3 insulation, sub-zero temperatures are shrugged-off, even if cold air from the mountain is tumbling towards your pitch.
It’s the warmer months, however, that make their all-action winter possible and the Brindisi spends its summer in the UK where Si & Faye work as wardens at Green Hill Farm Camping & Caravan Park in the New Forest. Theoretically, working full-time for the majority of the year, miles away from the nearest slope should make for incredibly rusty snowboarding skills but the pair have hatched a cunning plan. New Forest Waterpark may be flat and free from snow but it’s just 20-minutes from their caravan and offers a different kind of ‘boarding – wakeboarding.
2016 has been a year of firsts for me and until I joined the dynamic duo in Austria my winter sports experience was limited to watching Ski Sunday. Si, bless him, had the patience of a saint and although I didn’t exactly go from zero to hero, I was making reasonable progress in an alien environment. Fast forward six months and our Bailey Pursuit is pitched a short distance from the aforementioned Bailey Brindisi, and with a feeling of déjà vu, I’m back for more ‘boarding tuition.
Our caravan has enabled us to see and do things as a family that other forms of accommodation may have missed, and with Poppy (14) & Charlie (8) changed into wetsuits along with my wife & I, we were ready to try wakeboarding for the first time. The waterpark’s System 2 cable is in a beginner-friendly straight line and has the cable speed controlled by an instructor. Briefing done and with the board fixed to my feet, I adopted what can only be described as a waterborne fetal position in preparation for the first pull. With the phrase ‘Keep your bottom towards the board!’ ringing in my ears and a bow wave developing in front of the board, standing slowly into the wave felt closer to snowboarding than I’d thought possible, and with memories flooding back the further and faster I went, my confidence grew…until I caught an edge and disappeared under the surface in the blink of an eye. I found turns on water to be harder than snow but face-planting the lake served as a handy reminder to keep the edges of the board above the water. Helen, Poppy & Charlie all took to it quickly and with a few words from Si each time they were at the jetty, they were soon building their wakeboarding skills with each snippet of info. Proud? You betcha.
Learning to wakeboard is incredibly physical so we chose to watch Si in the main lake after our family-sized lesson. This is where learning to turn comes into play as the 5-corner cable follows the edge of the lake with various jumps dotted here and there for the brave or seasoned wakeboarder. Si looked equally at home on the water as he did on the snow and a small crowd and a couple of cameras was all the encouragement he needed to get airborne over the jumps and out of the corners. If System 2 was tough on the arms, I can only image what Si was going through as the camera crew made him do jump after jump in search of the perfect clip.
Back at base, we had a de-brief over a couple of beers with the front lounge in our Bailey Pursuit 560-5 seating 6 in comfort. Unless you already own a caravan or motorhome you may think they’re just for Bank Holiday breaks or a fortnight by the coast during the summer holidays, but they are capable of much, much more than that, extreme sports or otherwise.