Tell us about yourself, Rebecca: Where are you from?
I’m originally from Singapore and moved to Phuket about seven years ago.
You speak pretty good Thai. Did you study it?
Not really. I learned through friends and people I work with. Still, I’m kind of lazy and I forget words because I don’t use them often enough.
How long has the wakepark been open?
We secured this lake in September 2012. It took us about three months to build this first clockwise wakepark in Asia. Anthem opened its door to the public on 26 January 2013. We realised that many wakeparks in the world weren’t based on fun and friendliness and we wanted that element here. At many wakeboard venues, you need to know how to wakeboard first before you get to make friends, but here we make friends first then we teach you how to wakeboard.
How many teachers do you have?
All the cable operators and management staff members are wakeboarders-cum-teachers. There are eight teachers and most of our Thai staff speak English. I can speak Mandarin and Cantonese. If we get people from, say, Russia we can get some of our wakeboarding friends here to help translate.
What about the location? Did you look around a lot at disused tin mines?
It took a bit of investigative work and the help of Google Maps to locate this beautiful lake. We also had to ask the residents around here to help locate the owner. Many cablepark venues are far out of a city; they’d have to dig a lake to get set up but we were lucky to secure a fresh water ready-made lake left behind by exhausted tin mining.
The additional perks are that our wakepark is so close to four of the most beautiful white sandy beaches, a wide selection of dining outlets and so many convenience stores, pharmacies and supermarkets. Everything is within 10 minutes reach, but when we first did our survey here, it was a complete forest and there was only one entrance / exit through our neighbour’s house.
Do many Thai people come here?
More and more. A lot of locals pass through and many Thai families come to wakeboard. We also see quite a few young Thai ladies here, which is unusual as the younger generation wants to be white and you’d think that this is something that they’d avoid at all costs; but they do come because they’re attracted by seeing little seven-year-old Munchkins wakeboarding and figure how hard can it be if these little ones can do that?
Is there a particular sort of person who likes wakeboarding?
Oh I think it’s across the board. Generally people who like the thrill and spill of adrenalin-fueled sports like kite boarding, snowboarding, skate boarding. When we visited wakeboard parks, we noticed a niche of people aged between 20-40, but when we opened our park a lot of kids from the local international schools came – and then their parents joined them. We also discovered a lot of new talent from kids and adults who have never stepped on any kind of board before. With proper coaching, anyone can learn to wakeboard and be proficient in it. Some people say, “Oh, I’m too old for that,” but one of our oldest students was a 74-year-old grandfather! He figured he was on vacation and so was up for anything.
Also, people are much better read and travelled than in the past; they like to research and plan things to do and learn during their holidays. Many individuals, couples and families when on vacation want to experience and learn something new. We see many new faces here. This sport is growing very quickly all over the world. It's easy to pick up wakeboarding but it's not easy to be very good at it as you need loads of courage and determination to master the high risk aerial tricks. Nevertheless, it's enjoyable just hanging out at the wakepark to watch the riders perform on the water. Wakeboarding is a lifestyle and our wakepark is the community centre.
Can someone walk in here empty handed or do they have to have a board?
As a beginner, we will provide all the basic equipment, safety vest and helmet so you can just walk in empty handed. All you have to do is purchase a riding pass. However, we provide coaching for intermediate and advanced levels riders so these riders will likely have their own equipment. We have a pro shop and have a full range of the latest wakeboards, bindings, helmets and life vests; when people become hooked after trying it a couple of times, they usually want to purchase their own gear.
How do you evaluate success?
I think success is when you are content with what you have and you find joy in everything you do. You don’t have to be the richest person but you do have to own a wealth of knowledge about how the universe works and how you can relate to it. Being able to share your accumulated wisdom and have people looking up to and wanting to be like you will be the ultimate endorsement.
For more information, contact
Tel: +66 76 620033-4