Go Cincinnati! Wakeboard Without a Boat: Wake Nation Cable Park

by Joe on December 10, 2008

Last week I had a chance to interview a pair of entrepreneurs in Cincinnati: Pete Kennedy and Nick Binkley are the co-founders of Wake Nation, Cincinnati’s first cable park opening in May of 2009.  (In the picture: Nick is on the left, Pete is on the right)

What is a cable park?  You can do water sports without a boat!  A cable line tows you in a circle around a lake. 

These guys have such a great outlook on what it means to be an entrepreneur, and how awesome it is to create something that so many watersports junkies will enjoy, especially those of us who cant afford a boat!

Check out this great video of what Wake Nation will be like from Wake Nation’s MySpace page, followed by my entertaining, if I do say so myself, interview with Pete and Nick:

 Wake Nation Video

1. Who uses a boat to wakeboard anymore?

(PETE KENNEDY) Actually that’s a very good questions because it depends on where you live. In Europe for example, there are over 120 cable wakeboarding parks and thus, the European wake population is huge. So in Europe, I would guess that more people ride on cable than on boats. When we open Wake Nation May of 2009, we will be the 7th cable park in the US. The US is still way behind Europe in terms of cable parks and cable riders, but I think that trend will change dramatically over the next 10 years. So in the US, there are a ton of people who boarder behind boats mainly because they don’t have another option. With fluctuating fuel prices, high cost of buying and owning a boat, and the serious credit crunch, I think more and more people are going to be riding cable parks as they open in nearby cities. It’s our hope that everyone in Ohio will be riding our cable next summer.     

(NICK BINKLEY) The Rupert Murdock’s and Donald Trumps of the world. I mean who has the money these days for a boat, insurance, gas, a trailer?

2. How did you get the idea for Wake Nation?

(PETE KENNEDY) Prior to starting Wake Nation, I helped start Rhaphis Medical, a medical device company based in San Mateo, CA. The founder of Rhaphis Medical is also a practicing OB-GYN and goes on medical missions around the World providing free surgery to people who can’t afford it. He invited me to come along on one of his medical trips and as fate would have it, this medical mission was is Naga City (Philippines) and we were staying in a hotel near the Camsur Watersports Complex. Camsur is a killer cable wakeboarding park about 230 miles southeast of Manila. There were kids from around the World staying at our hotel and I asked them what the hell they were doing in Naga City? They said they were there for the cable park and told me to come by to check it out. I took one spin on the cable and was completely blown away. I’ve been hooked ever since. When I got back to the States, I quit my job and started Wake Nation and the rest is history.  

(NICK BINKLEY) From the U.S News and World Report’s “Most difficult Start-Ups!”

3. Why did you pick Cincinnati to be Wake Nation’s home?

(PETE KENNEDY) Many factors lead us to Cincinnati. First off, my partner Nick and I are from the Midwest: I’m from Indy and Nick is from Cincy. As we set out on an exhausted search for the perfect location, we travelled from Southern California to Denver to Phoenix and then home to Cincy. The perfect combination of reasonable land prices, a cooperative government body and a hungry wake population sold us on Cincy as the best location for our first park.

(NICK BINKLEY) I told Pete that it would be a TERRIBLE place to build a Cable Park, but after receiving several blows to the head, I had to agree, Cincinnati would be a GREAT location!

4. Since I am not a wake boarder, is this a type of place I could learn to wake board?

(PETE KENNEDY) Wake Nation is definitely a place for both beginners and pros. We will have onsite teachers who will provide lessons and tips to the beginners. If wakeboarding seems too difficult (which it’s not), you can always waterskiing or kneeboarding. We usually want our beginners to hop on a kneeboard for a couple of laps so they can get comfortable with the cable system. Before long, they will be cruising around the lake on a wakeboard, nailing one of our many jumps and rails. Learning how to wakeboard on a cable system is actually a lot easier than learning behind a boat. Behind a boat, you are submerged in the water and as the boat pulls you up, you are fighting against the force of the water. At a cable park, you start out of the water, sitting on a bench with your board resting on the surface of the water. So a “dry start” makes it easier to initially get up. We went to great lengths to design our park to make it both friendly for beginners and challenging for pros.

All riders are required to wear a helmet, life vest and wakeboard, kneeboard or waterskis. If you don’t have your own gear, no worries. You can rent all your gear at our pro shop. We sell passes to our lake in 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, all day and season pass increments. We haven’t nailed down our pricing yet, but 1 hour will probably cost $20, 2 hours will cost $25, 4 hours will cost $29 and all day will cost $36. We will also have a 1,300 sq ft pro shop selling all the latest wakeboard gear and apparel. Plus a huge 3,000 sq ft observation deck where you can hang out all day and watch your buddies pull off their newly learned tricks. 

(NICK BINKLEY) Even a caveman can learn to wakeboard at our park.

5. Many of my Cincinnati readers are also interested in web start-ups, which is slightly different from a start-up with a physical location but is similar in terms of skills entrepreneurs need.  What are some of the business skills that served you best you while bringing Wake Nation to life?

(PETE KENNEDY) Not sure if these are skills, but the four principles I subscribe to when starting a business are:

  1. Do you homework. Know your business and industry better than anyone else and have a business plan that lots of people have critiqued.
  2. Focus. Focus. Focus. Don’t try to do too many things at one time. If you try to do too many things at the same time, you will half-ass everything. Focus on one thing and do that right.
  3. Don’t overbuild your business at the start. A lot of entrepreneurs take the “go big or go home” approach when starting a business. Most likely, you will go home.
  4. Don’t be afraid to take a risk

(NICK BINKLEY) I leaned the facts of life by watching “The Facts of Life.”

6. How can people connect with Wake Nation to make sure they can be there on opening day?

(PETE KENNEDY) You can check us out online at www.wakenation.com, Give us a call at (310) 940-4990. Join our Myspace page at www.myspace.com/wakenation. Join our Wake Nation Cincinnati group on Facebook. Or show up in person at Wake Nation. Our address is:

201 Joe Nuxhall Way
Fairfield, OH 45014

Hope to see you out on the lake!

One comment

we are lookig for people who can help us build and supply to us the cable system for a wakeboard park we are planning to put up here in the philippines.

please advise. thanks!

by tyrone corcuera on April 18, 2009 at 10:20 am. Reply #

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