Great fun to be had at Pembrokeshire Wake Park!

Mark Harris and Fraser Watson


‘Don’t lean back, don’t lean back, don……’


Water sports have never been a strong point of mine. Ones that require technical efficiency and composure even less so.

So when I arrived at Pembrokeshire Wake Park one misty Sunday morning to try my hand at cable wakeboarding, trepidation outweighed intrigue.

In very capable hands!

But if nothing else, I knew I would be in good hands. Since opening in June 2017, the park has grown in reputation and now caters for everyone from first timers (me!) to serious competitors. And this coming Sunday, July 7th, proof of progress will be showcased when the park hosts a unique event.

“We will be hosting a stop of the Southern Series Cable Tour which is a national competition taking place at different parks in the UK,” explained Mark Harris, who runs the business along with siblings Sarah and Stephanie.

Interesting start

The trio are all qualified instructors having started out with an empty field in Cott Lane in Martletwy six years ago, and with little outside help dug a lake and built a clubhouse by watching ‘how to’ videos on YouTube!

“It’s the first time South Wales has hosted an event of this kind - one of our aims this year as a club is to get as many youths involved as possible and really grow the sport in the county and this should help with that.

“We will have 40-50 entrants here and a huge range of abilities, from beginners trying jumps for the first time to those at pro level. It will be a good way to showcase the venue and how we run.”

Reassuring words from Mark . . .

I wasn’t personally targeting qualification for that one just yet - but was heartened to know that my novice status hardly isolated me.

“A lot of people are nervous if they haven’t been here before but once they get in the water they quickly realise there isn’t much to worry about,” said Mark.

“Having the cables here means we can run in a very controlled environment. It’s not like surfing as such where you may worry about sea conditions.

“A lot have started out here as just people who want to have a go but have then carried on. We have Luca Lane-Hopkins who travels down from Swansea to train and competes at national level – and a number of our members have been at other venues in the Southern Series tour.”

. . .  But was Fraser convinced?

It all sounded positive. What I was less convinced about was Mark telling me they guarantee beginners being able to get up and balanced on the wakeboard within the first two of their introductory sessions.

“When people go the full length for the first time they get a real buzz from it.”

We’ll see.

It was Stephanie who took me through the formalities, with advice on balance and posture. Low body position, shoulders over feet, don’t pull hard on the overhead cable – the sort of sound technical points which I was bound to forget about when panicking and wobbling all over the place.

I tried to cast my mind back to my more frequent gym days and the solid body position needed to perform squats. And then I remembered I always avoided squats.

Steady start for the Watson Boy

Regardless, getting into position on the board went alright early on. Maintaining rhythm while deciding which leg to lead with, not so.

Fortunately Mark was nothing if not patient, and every inevitable tumble into the late was met with a pointer as to why. Leaning back, not focussing on the destination in front of me, and gripping the cable too intensely were among the more frequent faults.

“The most common mistake from people starting out is pulling down on the cable and not relaxing,” he explained. “When you relax you do so much better.”

Minor progress followed, but every time a full length looked in sight came a sway to the left, followed by over-compensating trying to get back right, and then another gulp full of water.

Having my front arm, leg, and head pointed towards the middle for the duration was proving harder than it sounded.
Fraser getting to grips with wakeboarding

A chance to step up

But during the second session came a crucial instruction. Confident I had mastered (just about sorted) the stance, Mark told me to start taking one arm off the cable and leave it by my side.

Feeling more, dare I say it, relaxed, two full lengths without falling followed and as I clambered back to dry land, my self-belief had progressed from rock bottom to reasonable.

It hadn’t been easy, but nor had it been the daunting experience I feared and Mark’s promise to have me resembling competence within two short sessions had rung true. As for the ‘jumps’ that surrounded us – I dare say their probably reserved for lesson three.

But it struck me that had this particular facility not existed, it’s a sport I would probably never had tried.

“It’s hugely important that people in Pembrokeshire can come here and realise wakeboarding is accessible,” said Mark.

A fast-growing sport in world terms

“Years ago people could only do it if they owned a boat but now anyone can have a go. Having the cables takes boats out of the equation and this is now one of the fastest growing watersports in the World.”

And the global exposure is improving as well, with the 2019 IWWF World Cable Wakeboard Championships in Argentina this August to be televised and also expected to draw in massive crowds.

But whether you aim to be one day World champion or just want to try it for a laugh, then I highly recommend a visit to the Pembrokeshire Wake Park.

Believe me, they can get anyone to enjoy it.

The Southern Series event next Sunday, July 7th starts at 11am and is open to spectators - and there will be food and music available. For more information on the event, or for the opening times and sessions available at the venue, visit or the Pembrokeshire Wake Park Facebook page.