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Exploring Our Backyard: Wake surfing on crystal clear Lake Tahoe

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View of Lake Tahoe from Homewood, CA (Brian Kulpa/Nevada Sports Net)

Welcome back to another week of Exploring Our Backyard. Last time, we made the trek to Squaw Valley to check out Tahoe's only Via Ferrata with Alpenglow Expeditions. Today, we continue heading north on Highway 89 to Homewood to go Wake Surfing with Tahoe Surf Company.

Upon arriving, we met the Owner of Tahoe Surf Company, Jeb Scicluna, along with former U.S. Olympic snowboarder, Andy Finch, who is a boat captain and wake-surfing coach for Tahoe Surf Company. Shortly after, we hopped on their new Super Air Nautique G25 boat and were on our way into the water.

Owner Jeb Scicluna was born and raised in Santa Cruz, but once his family moved to the mountains he was still making trips to the Central Coast to surf until he thought, "How can I bring the beach to the mountains so you can also be chased by endless waves here?" He then had a vision of being able to take people out to create an experience of surfing in Lake Tahoe. He soon after launched Tahoe Surf Company.

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One of the biggest questions I had was, "What is the difference between wake surfing and wake boarding?" The only water activities I've done before are jet skiing and kayaking, so those are a little different than this. Speed is the biggest factor, but with wake surfing you are holding onto a rope in the beginning and then release it at some point to ride the wave out. With wakeboarding, you're pulled along with a motor-powered boat the entire time.

"It's a community event," Scicluna said. "We're here laughing at each other having a great time, not waiting for a lineup in the ocean, we're here basically able to enjoy the experience. It's just as fun sitting here watching others surf and saying 'I want to try that' or 'Let's do something funny,' and then we'll swap roles, so that's why it's so cool to be out here wake surfing at a slow, safe speed, whereas wake boarding is a little more high performance. So you are sending it with bio rocket airs clearing the wake. That's a lot of fun too, but it's a higher impact sport, whereas the intensity rises, but it's pretty cool they're sending sick tricks as if they're in the terrain park. With this surfing ability, we can take it into more of a skateboarding style as well, and that's pretty fun at a slower speed, so that's more or less the difference."

Alex Margulies has wake surfed before, and his goal during our adventure was to drop the rope and ride the waves.

"When you're teaching someone, there's a few different things to focus on," Finch said. "We try to break it down into real simple steps. It starts with just flipping the board, then getting on top of the board and getting away from the wake. Once most people get through that fairly quickly, the real significant two points are body position and placement on the wave. You get those two dialed, you're just letting go of the rope and you're just having a blast surfing the wave."

Finch coached Alex through his time on the water, and after a few falls he was wake surfing in no time.

"I love being out here on Lake Tahoe," Finch said. "Obviously it's a beautiful lake, what a job to be able to drive a boat and be on a Lake all day long, I mean we can see down crystal clear 30 feet, we can see the bottom. But really what makes this for me, is the experience we're able to give people. They come out with these hurdles trying to get over whether it's a fear of water, a fear of 'I had a bad experience when I was a kid and I don't think I'll be able to get up' or 'I just want to cruise, we're not even interested in surfing', and then we get them out and up, we get the biggest smiles in the world and it puts a smile on my face and keeps me coming back no matter what's thrown at us."

In between Alex wake surfing, I gave tandem surfing a try and it was an experience unlike any other. After putting on a Rip Curl wet suit and learning some basics, I was up and riding the waves. Since I haven't tried many water activities before, it was the perfect way for me to learn. I would highly recommend this experience if you haven't done many water activities before.

Before we wrapped up the day, our photographer, Anthony Resnick, gave it a try and was riding the waves in no time. He's a natural athlete at almost everything. Overall, it was a great day on the water in a one-of-a-kind boat with high quality instruction from the folks at Tahoe Surf Company!

Up next, we're heading to the playa near Flanigan to go land sailing!


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