Glasfryn Parc’s Bas Kearns on overcoming adversity through the joys of wakeboarding._
I’ve been wakeboarding for about 12 years. I started out behind a speedboat at Abersoch, but began coming to Glasfryn because of the cable system. Basically, it’s a big winch that pulls you back and forth, which is much less effort than doing it behind a boat. It’s a lot easier and quicker because if you fall, in the cable comes straight back to you rather than you having to wait for the boat to come round again. It’s brilliant for learners because it helps you get up on top of the board really quickly. The cable is above you, so it lifts you out of the water rather than dragging you through it. Best of all, you don’t have to clean the boat at the end of the day. I’ve been an instructor here for a few years now. One day they were short-staffed and needed some help, so I got involved. I’ve been here ever since.
In September 2015 I had an accident which resulted in me losing most of my left arm. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to carry on wakeboarding, which got me down a bit. When I was ready to get back on the board it was pretty difficult to start with, but I kept on trying and I learned different ways to do things. Now I’ve got my own style based on using one hand and half an arm.
In some ways I’m pretty much back to where I was before the accident. I can still do all the tricks that are possible with one hand and there are some others that I’ve worked out new ways of doing. There are actually things that I’ve been trying to do for ages that I’ve now learned to do, just by experimenting with different approaches. I was also lucky to have a lot of help from JOBE Watersports, who were very generous as I was finding my feet again.
A lot of people tell me that it must have been a life-changing experience, but I don’t really see it that way. It’s been a fairly tough time, but it’s nothing that you can’t deal with if you try hard enough. A friend made a video about me getting back on the board and loads of people that I’ve got to know through wakeboarding over the years sent me messages saying that it had inspired them to get back into it after they’d had injuries of their own. I didn’t expect anything like that to come from it, so that made me feel really good.
Everything has something in their life that they’re passionate about. You can tell the people they really love wakeboarding. As soon as they get out on the water they have this weird smile on their face. Even when they’re going head first into the waves, they look really happy.
I’ve been to waveparks all over the UK and I think that Glasfryn is one of the best places to wakeboard, both for learners and experienced riders. It’s in such a beautiful area, surrounded by fields and trees. On a nice sunny day, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.