The Trip of a Lifetime
The trip of a lifetime. That’s really the best way for me to describe our recent trip to South Africa to film for Oakley’s new wakeboarding film “Push Process”. It started as an idea in September of 06 and in early March became a reality. First off Matty Swanson and Jack Blodgett meticulously planned out the entire trip for us. The lined up all the travel and more importantly all the friends to ride and shoot with once there. This sounds like a small detail but having an itinerary of what is going to be going on every day on a trip makes all the difference. That’s the way the Oakley trips are but that is where the similarities to any other trip I’ve been involved with end.
None of the guys on the trip had ever been anywhere in Africa so we didn’t have a clue what to expect. Along on the trip were fellow rippers Aaron Rathy the upcoming Phnom who will undoubtedly change wakeboarding for the better before the end of his career and Danny Hampson arguably the best wakeskater out there. Jack Blodgett a great rider and accomplished award winning wake vidoegrapher, Garrett Cortese shooting for Alliance wake mag, and myself Andrew Adkison. The Push Process is a perfect name because as soon as you get the Oakley team together this individual sport becomes a team sport with everyone taking as much drive into pushing each other on the water as they do themselves. It started on the flight over with everyone basically throwing out there what they thought the other could make happen on the water but hadn’t yet. Although we still didn’t have a clue what to expect for riding conditions and accommodations when we arrived.
After 36 hours of travel we hopped off the plane in Durban, South Africa at about midnight and elected Jack to navigate to Port Edwards where we would meet up with Kevin Dry. It took another two hours to get there mainly because of us taking our time driving on the left side of the road. It was only about a fifty-mile commute, but we really didn’t want to make any wrong turns. When we arrived at Umtamvuna Resort River Lodge at two a.m. it was hard to take in our surroundings and realize exactly the paradise we had traveled to.
The next morning around six a.m. due to jet lag we all staggered out of our room onto our own personal balconies and realized how amazing of a place we had come to. Kevin our gracious host had his crew do up a breakfast for us as we franticly readied the boats for what would be and epic day of riding. When you arrive on the other side of the earth to such a perfect place it doesn’t matter how tired or jet lagged you are the stoke takes over. Words wouldn’t do our surroundings justice so I’ll let the pictures give a glimpse of what’s to come in Oakley’s “Push Process.” We all wanted to be the first to hit the water but knew a little rock, paper, scissors was the only fair way to go. At the end of it I can’t remember who went first but I do remember that same drive didn’t leave us our entire stay at the Umtamvuna River Lodge. I don’t have many riding pics from here because I was driving either the chase boat or rider boat, but I can’t wait to see the footage of what looked like a cross between Hawaii and heaven. The stretch of river we rode on was only about a mile and it led out to the Atlantic Ocean. We decided to make the best of it one evening and hike the beach to watch the boys do some tow ins. We left Kevin’s place thinking why aren’t we staying here for the entire trip because I didn’t think it could ever be outdone. Little did we know we would be met with the same hospitality and great riding conditions in Cape Town.
We hopped of the plane in Cape Town and were promptly pick up by Nick Burton-Moore his girlfriend Paighe and Mark Burton-Moore. They took us a little over an hours drive to their secret spot on the Berg River. There are only about twenty houses on this seemingly endless river and only two wakeboarding boats. So we basically had this paradise to ourselves for the next five days. Nicks place sits on the top of a hill overlooking one end of the river. This was perfect because one guy could be riding and the others that weren’t in the boat could still watch from the hill. It was the perfect place to watch your friend hit double ups from a completely different view. Danny Hampson did a few runs right by us in close to shore so we could get some shots as we just stood back to realize how much he rips. I’d have to say Aaron Rathy really took the spotlight here. It had been awhile since Aaron had ridden a river where you could just run a straight line as long as you wanted and he capitalized on the conditions. Aaron knew he wanted to leave is mark on South Africa and on the Berg River he laid down some of the best riding I’ve seen. Not to be to outdone Danny, Jack and myself all pushed each other. I tried a trick for the first time that I’ve been hesitant to try for three years after the taunting from the rest of the crew. I didn’t make it this time but will soon.
Being near Cape Town we knew we had to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the sights. Amazing mountains that back up to even better beaches. Again words can’t do it justice. At the end of the 11-day trip Jack and I both did something we never get to do on such a long trip and decided we hadn’t seen enough. We changed our tickets to get another few days in paradise. This was a good idea because with all the great riding conditions we really didn’t leave the water enough to take in the uniqueness of our surroundings. Some of my best pictures and memories came from those next forty-eight hours.
Making the trip to South Africa was one of those life-changing trips you hope for as a rider and traveler. I’ve been to many places and there isn’t a close second to hospitality, amazing riding conditions, and an overall contagious stoke to Push ourselves, each other and our sport. This trip was an experience that really brought home how lucky we are to have wakeboarding be avenue to see the world. This experience really put into perspective one of the best things about wakeboarding. No matter where you go if you’re with riders you’re with friends. All I can say is thank you to all involved and to Oakley for having me be a part of the “Push Process. “ There is more to come and our momentum is building.