Brian Grubb takes wakeskating to New York's historic Erie Canal
Wakeskating may seem just like wakeboarding, but for Red Bull Athlete Brian Grubb, who grew up doing both, it’s a completely different sport. As a kid in Florida, Grubb first took to wakeboarding, but it wasn’t until high school where he started wakeskating.
“People think of wakeskating as wakeboarding, but it’s more like skateboarding on water,” says Grubb. “The tricks we do are incorporated from skateboarding. It is a technical sport that requires a lot of time in the water, which is not appealing to some people, but it is also a very rewarding sport.”
As he learned to savor those rewards, Grubb soon found himself concentrating more on wakeskating, traveling and competing in various contests, winning multiple titles.
His most recent trip took Grubb and fellow Red Bull Athlete Andrew Pastura to historic Lockport, N.Y., home of the Flight of Five, the five lock systems that surround Western New York’s Erie Canal. The locks assisted boats down a 60-foot drop in elevation and also helped make Buffalo a center of American steel production. The lock systems intrigued Grubb from the start. Through extensive research on Google maps and through photos, Grubb checked out Lockport himself.
“I heard about this from the guys with Red Bull in Upstate New York,” says Grubb. “I went out and scouted the place myself to make sure it was rideable and everything looked good.”
With the help of Red Bull, Grubb and Pastura were granted permission and headed to the historic Locks with full access; the timing seemed perfect for the trip.
“There was construction going on so we had full access,” Grubb says.
With full access and filming permits, Grubb was able to bring the boat out and with the help of Pastura, the duo were up for the challenge. They visited places like The Cut, an area surrounded by rock walls on both sides that is normally a no wake zone, but were given permission to rev it up.
“It was great to have the boat and be able to bring it out,” says Grubb. “Our other rider, Andrew, was great as well.”
Hitting the locks presented another challenge as conditions had changed since Grubb last visited to scout the place.
“It had been raining at the time, so when I returned the drop was different,” Grubb says. “Some of the tricks were limited, but we just had to adapt."
Despite the change in conditions, Grubb and Pastura found themselves skating in the 200-year-old lock system, a place that had never been skated or even swam in. Grubb credits Red Bull for not only setting the trip up, but also for gaining just that sort of unprecedented access.
“I just would like to thank Red Bull," he says. "They had to go through many hoops to get us filming permissions.”
Throughout the trip, Grubb's performances attracted crowds eager to see what the sport of wakeskating was all about, and the athlete says he found that the community support helped make the trip a particularly rewarding one.
“To have the support from the city's assemblyman, and people in the Lockport area was great,” says Grubb, who believes that the visit helped send a message about wakeskating. “I hope that bringing this to their city was just as rewarding.”