Life’s a beach at Titanic slipways for wakeboards

Nico Sweeney pictured practicing for The second All-Ireland Cable Wakeboarding competition
Nico Sweeney pictured practicing for The second All-Ireland Cable Wakeboarding competition

Belfast’s first man-made beach will be one of the prime viewing locations when the All Ireland Wakeboarding Championships takes place in the city this weekend.

Based at the Titanic Slipways, a new ‘cable facility’ for one of the world’s fastest growing sports has been erected and will host up to 50 competitors.

Using an electric cable car type apparatus, the wakeboarders are pulled from the slipways across a stretch of Belfast Lough towards the Paint Hall film studio and back.

The wakeboarding area has been established as a semi-permanent park which will operate until the end of the summer and includes, as well as the man-made beach, a barbecue area and a changing facility.

All cable wakeboarding sessions are by appointment and the facility is open until dusk.

A membership scheme is running for regular users but anyone wishing to give it a go can pay £20 for a half-hour combination of land-based training and on-the-water experience.

Samantha Crawford of Cable and Wake said the park is geared up to host individuals, small groups or larger corporate activity days.

“The thing about cable is that it brings it to the public – it is a lot cheaper and the turnaround [of participants] is a lot faster.

“People come down to the park and we have barbecues which add to the popularity. They aren’t restricted by the need to have a boat, or to know someone with a boat. They just need to bring a swimsuit or shorts.

“There are around 80 parks in Germany, about 60 in France and six in London – with others scattered around the UK in just about every major city,” she said.

Commenting on this weekend’s competition, the company’s director added: “I organised the boat [wakeboarding] national championships last weekend in Enniskillen and we had 26 competitors, but we are actually expecting more for cable as cable is now taking over from boat.”

Over the two days there will be a variety of entertainment, including music and a gourmet barbecue from the team at Titanic Belfast. The competition is taking place between 9.30am and 6pm today, and 10am-7pm tomorrow and spectators are welcome.

Public sessions are by appointment only and can be arranged by calling Samantha on 07808966163.

Life jackets and wetsuits are provided.