By Jenny Cooper
Waterskiing and wakeboarding usually involve a fast boat and lots of crashing on the water. While zooming around on the water behind a slick speedboat is great fun, it is a little noisy, and a stretch of water cannot facilitate many boats at the same time. To create a way for more people to enjoy this exhilarating sport at the same time cable parks were designed, where riders hook up on a cable system that drags them around a set course.
The first cable park was built more than 50 years ago, but in recent years they have been appearing worldwide. The latest addition is groundbreaking Sliders in El Gouna. It is the first cable park in Egypt, the only one in North Africa and on of the biggest in the world.
The lagoon that was built to accommodate Sliders boasts a five pylon counter-clockwise 780m cable, including a 300m Olympic standard slalom course and a couple of great obstacles. The park is perfect for skiers as well as wakeboarders. There is a shorter 460m clockwise wake cable which incorporates lots of the latest obstacles. In addition there are two tower easy rides of 50m and 80m, both ideal for learning water starts and early progression. The cables offer something for riders of all levels and the corners are buoyed to make it easier for less experienced riders to judge turns. Equipment is available to rent and it is obligatory for all riders to wear a helmet and impact vest, regardless of their experience.
The construction of the cableway was managed by Rixen Cableways’ technician Simon Herrmann. Herrmann is a world champion, European champion and world record holder slalom water skier. The speed of the cables can be adjusted from zero to 60 kph to suit the level of the riders. To date, only Herrmann has tested the maximum capability of the cable.
Sliders aims to attract championship competitions, from national to continental to world levels. The park is already booking ‘wake camps’, intense wakeboarding weeks, and attracting some of the best pro riders.
Beginners who wish to learn have two options to choose from. They can rent one of the easy rides with all the equipment and a dedicated instructor for one hour for €100. The other option, recommended by staff, is for those who are a little more daring: rent the equipment, get some coaching at the beginning and go for it. The most difficult part is the start, once you are on your way it is a question of hanging on.
Sliders is a joint project with 80% Polish, 10% German and 10% Egyptian investment and it is much more than just a cable park. Smart, modern, friendly and somewhat informal, the cable park is quickly becoming a great place to meet and hang out. The facilities cater both to riders and those who want to watch the action, welcoming families, friends, couples, and groups of any age.
The facilities are purpose built. The main building is modern and smart and can be accessed directly from the spacious parking lot. All external walls are made of glass, giving the space a lofty and airy feel. The air-conditioning provides much needed cool on hotter days. Here you find the central office and bar area, plenty of comfortable seating and the indoor restaurant. The cloakrooms and service areas are discreetly set off to the sides and smoking is not permitted inside the building.
Doors open to the outside where there is a welcoming circular bar/restaurant area that offers great views of the park and all the action. From there you go on to a series of terraces, with lounge chairs and bean bags. The outside bar area is screened in during cooler weather. Off to the sides are a 300 square metre, heated pool and a children’s play area. For the riders, there are extensive covered areas with lockers, showers and changing rooms, equipment issue and storage.
The tiered terraces add another dimension and sense of height, plus ensure uninterrupted views of the action. The sound system is excellent without being overbearing, and the laid back music enhances the atmosphere as you relax in the sun or shade, eating, and drinking. The lowest levels of the sun terraces reach waterside, where there is more seating, hangers, board racks and the all important cableways.
The park is open from 9am until late into the evening, all year round. As the sun sets behind the mountains that circle El Gouna, the floodlights come on for night riding. The park can accommodate 17 riders on the cables at once, 11 on the long cable and six on the wake cable. Cable passes are available, varying from two hours right up to one year with a day pass costing €35.