words & photos: Belmont

When I first caught wind that a Colombian wakeboard organization was interested in having someone travel to Guatapé, Colombia to cover a wakeboard event, I, and everyone I knew, was honestly surprised to learn that Colombia even HAD a wakeboarding community. Upon traveling to the event, I was even more surprised to find that the close group of wakeboarders there were not only friends and family to one another, but people who truly were interested in progressing the sport on both a national and global level. There was a real sense of community here and it showed through with every rider I met. This attitude didn’t just make for an awesome event but an amazing experience in a country that was completely foreign to me. Seeing as this was my first time even outside of the US, I was stoked on how welcoming and inviting everyone was.   

Colombia offers everything from breathtaking mountainscapes to the sandy beaches of the Caribbean, which makes it a very popular tourist destination. One such attraction is the town of Guatapé; often referred to as “the most colorful town in Colombia.” Within this town lies one of wakeboarding’s best kept secrets, and the host of this year’s Colombian Wakeboard Nationals: Wakeboard Guatapé Academy.

Wakeboard Guatape Academy teaches style well

The Wakeboard Guatapé Academy uses their Malibu 24 MXZ for everything from teaching visitors how to get up on a wakeboard or wakesurfer, to dialing in competition lines with some of the best wakeboarders in the country. Lush green trees line the banks of the sprawling reservoir and with no seawalls, you could ride for days without having to turn around or find a new line. Pretty sweet if you ask me. Of course the Academy offers their services to anyone willing to ride (which exposes the sport to new participants), but they also played a big role in hosting the Colombian Wakeboard Nationals. 

The event took place on the “Embalse del Penol”, a reservoir stretching about nine miles, north to south. This body of water branches out into many small inlets that the locals call home. Each morning began with a breakfast catered at the event site, which gave the judges time to prepare for the day as the riders and spectators began to show up. Once breakfast was over with, we got things rolling with the event and got the riders out on the water. If you’ve ever been to a boat contest, you know that there can be some downtime in the action. The people putting on the event made sure to keep that to a minimum and keep the good times rolling all day. 

Embalse del Penol

As people started showing up, the sense of community began to grow. Families came from all over the country not only to compete but to spend time with each other. While the riders got ready to hit the water, boats from all over the reservoir came to spectate; creating an awesome environment for all riders from beginners to the pro division to be able to showcase their runs. During the passes, spectators watched from both boats and from the shore, enjoying food from various vendors and listening to the tunes that the DJ was pumping out all day. I didn’t even mind the hot temperatures as I was too entertained to care.

Entertaining the fans

From start to finish, it was clear from an outsider’s point of view that this event was not just about placing in a competition or establishing rank. This event was about pushing the sport within the country and supporting all those who came out and threw down! By the end of my journey, I had a great appreciation for a new culture that was so accepting of me and everyone else. 

Pro Women Results:

  1. Ramirez C. Camila (70.67)
  2. Alban N. Gabriela (58.33) 
  3. Duran M. Manuela (55.67)

Pro Men Results:

  1. Rocha O. Jorge Alfredo (68.56)
  2. Velez G. Juan Martin (66.89)
  3. Ladron De Guevara Felipe (62.67)

  • Colombia Population: 49 million
  • Wake Schools/Camps: 
    • Andres Rozo Echeverry Wakeboard School (Bogota – http://www.colombiawake.com)
    • Club Los Lagartos (Bogota – http://www.clublagartos.com/)
    • Wakeboard Guatapé Academy (Guatapé – https://www.facebook.com/wakeboardguatape)
    • Club Llanogrande (Rionegro – http://www.clubcampestre.com.co/index.php)
  • Cable Parks:
    • Cable Wake Park Colombia (Floridablanca – http://www.parqueacualago.com)
    • Club Llanogrande (Rionegro – http://www.clubcampestre.com.co/index.php)