Summer Slacklining – Beginner Guide

Summer Slacklining – Beginner Guide
It may only be April but it definitely feels like summer has well and truly set in, and hopefully it can only get better. After a scorching couple of weeks of longer evenings, bbq’s and absolutely no wind for kiting we broke out the slacklines for some fun in the sun.

 

Slacklining in the Sun

Slacklining has been growing in popularity vastly in the last couple of years with some new brands appearing on the Uk scene. As a sport it is incredibly easy to get into and with low initial start up costs it makes it highly accessible to a variety of audiences. Once you have acquired a line (we currently use a 25m Gibbon line) its just a case of rigging it between a couple of sturdy trees with a group of friends. Slacklining is a great sport which can be as easy going or challenging as you wish to make it. Its good on the environment and even better building core fitness and balance skills.

Although it may appear impossible initially, slacklining can be picked up by anyone. It is all about the amount of time on the line and the dedication to master it. We headed headed out this weekend with a bunch of “slacker virgins” to give it a try.

After spending numerous hours on and off the line, we came to the following conclusions which may help you on your first time out.

  • Try to focus on a fixed point at the end of the line, looking down will result in a sudden loss of balance.
  • Small pigeon steps whilst your feet face forward at all times, we often found as soon as one of your feet goes horizontally across the line any form of balance was lost again.
  • Try and try again, you will not pick up slacklining in 5 minutes – if you did we want to hear from you!
  • Rig the line below the height of your waist/main assets. Falling with one leg either side of the line with it rigged an inch to high can, and will be extremely uncomfortable.
  • Concentrate, its hard enough to walk the line without your friends laughing at the weird faces you are pulling – block off the banter to stay off the ground.
  • Arms above your head for maximum balance. Wax on, wax off.

Slack Lining

A Beginners Account of SUP – Red Paddle Co.

A Beginners Account of SUP – Red Paddle Co.
A complete beginners account of SUP:
Paddle boarding is something that has been growing in popularity greatly, in particular during the last few years. Although SUP has been around for a long time it appears to be in the limelight, on the beaches and in the rivers more than ever before. Like many other kiters and surfers looking for something to do when the wind is to light or the waves to small paddle boarding I wanted to give it a go and see what the fuss was about, being landlocked I headed to the local weir and canal network where I discovered a new element to water based board sports that is somehow familiar and yet very different at the same time.

 

SUP with the Red Paddle Co. Ten Six

There is something unusual but refreshing about splashing around in the Uk water ways in April in just a shorty wetsuit and a pair of board shorts. The sun was shining so I rang around in search of another volunteer to test some boards with. I had recently taken delivery of a couple of Red Paddle Co. RedAir Ten Six boards so we chucked them in the van and headed off in search of water. Unlike other paddle boards on the market the Red Paddle Co. specialise in inflatable boards, now I know what you are thinking – I too was sceptical at first but we were instore for an awesome day out. With a special pump designed for easily gaining 15-20 Psi we unrolled and quickly inflated the boards, once completed these things were hard, seriously hard. There goes the immediate stigma of a jellyfish/holiday rubber dingy inflatables. After getting the boards ready we clambered along a gravel path until we reached the weir, great with bare feet!

Red Air SUP

Cautiously making our way down a slippery mud bank as close to the water line as possible we scrambled onto the boards and sat up on our knees. We both paddled out further into the weir. The boards are extremely stable when paddling in this position and practically no balance was required at this time. Standing up was initially a different ball game – I cannot think of another board sport I do where your feet are so close together and you travel forwards, no regular or goofy here so the feeling was quite unusal.

SUP in the Uk waterwaysAfter getting my feet standing up and feeling the influence of adding pressure to either my left or right foot we headed off down the canal. It was obviously not something many people had seen in this area as there were a lot of stares coming from the banks as we paddled by. On flat water and when the suns out, not a cloud in the sky and with no wind it was incredibly tranquil paddling along the river banks. There was not a sound other than the paddles gently slapping the water as we moved forwards.

A while into the day  I could feel that my body was receiving a workout, dispite the calm nature of the journey. My legs were continuously shacking to maintain balance whilst my back and shoulders could feel the extent of the paddle. The over vibe of paddling was to take it easy and not to excerpt yourself to much, it was generally exactly that later in the day which put me in the water with the weeds and fish (bottles/old cans/general litter) Once we had head up, and then back down stream to our starting point I decided to be a little bit more playful with the boards, cross stepping, switching sides and walking to the front and back of the boards. I even tried a running hotstart from the side of the river – after one attempt it was quite clear this is not the official way to get started on the board!

Hang Ten Paddle Boarding

In terms of attire on the first day we wore shorty 3/2mm wetsuits underneath a pair of shorts – knowing the people I was going with it was a dead cert that someone was going in! The following day I headed back to the same spot with my girlfriend. She does not partake in any other boardsports but took to paddle boarding right away, as the day got hotter and hotter she swapped her wetsuit for a bikini and shorts which I much preferred. At this point it was more obvious how versatile and accessible SUP really is. If you haven’t already given it a go -I highly suggest you do!

Although inexperienced with other brands and equipment the Ten Six RedAir board and collapsable/adjustable glass fibre paddle felt a great combination to get started with. The portability factor was fantastic, I think the size of a standard board is what has previously put me off trying the sport sooner, and now with these boards they can stay in the van amongst all of my other sporting equipment for days like these or at the beach. The boards are extremely easy to pump up and due to the specially designed pumps do not get tremendously difficult to inflate at the higher PSI. From a durability perspective they feel extremely solid and besides a small amount of flex you cannot feel you are on an inflatable. The sides are extremely hard and thick so should take endless hours of abuse without paddle dings from hitting the sides of the board. The deflation process is just as easy as the inflate and the board and paddle can be completely packed away from river to bag in under 5 minutes.

I cannot wait for the next outing and hope to be hitting the ocean and its wide variety of wavy terrain soon!

If your interested in SUP check out our SUP store.

Article and Photos: Marcus Woodbridge

 

Maverick Slackline Club 03/03/11

Maverick Slackline Club 03/03/11

A three hour drive through rush-hour traffic, a dodgy roadside burger, and a car full of smokers desperate to stop for a ‘break’, all made worthwhile by finally arriving at the Maverick Slackline Club in Poole.

Despite managing not to be too late this time, the session was already in full swing, with both lines eagerly waited for by queues of beginners and competent slackers alike. Considering this is only the third of Maverick’s fortnightly indoor sessions, the uptake has been phenomenal. And the great thing is it isn’t just people popping in to check it out. Even the beginners seem to be taking it seriously and getting hooked. I’m sure it won’t be long before we see them needing to take over another portion of Ashdown Leisure Centre’s sports hall to accommodate the fast increasing number of keen slackers.

Jacob on the Maverick Slackline

As the jam got going the beats were turned up, the slackliners warmed up, and the tricks started flowing, everyone keen to share what they had spent the last two weeks working on. Kids trying it for the first time were walking half way along the line after only a few tries. People who learnt to walk last time were learning their first tricks this time, and the usual bounce junkies were throwing massive airs and new combos like there was no tomorrow. The progression is amazing. Some of the bangers on show included chestbounces, backdrops, 360s, huge air grabs to seatdrops, sick static combos, and loads of new seatdrop combos, to name but a few. Who knows what next time will bring, but it will be another entertaining and inspiring session, for sure.

Jacob on the Maverick Slackline

A huge thanks to Maverick Slacklines for making it all happen. And a special thanks has to go to Ashdown Leisure Centre for the use of their hall and in particular the extra hour provided, also Matt Hardy for dazzling us with his flash at the most inappropriate moments but creating from that some great action shots, and of course everyone who attended because without you it would have just been some middle-aged badminton players listening to hip-hop and dubstep.

The next club will meet on Thursday 17th March, 6 – 8pm, at Ashdown Leisure Centre, Poole. So get slacking, and get involved!

Writing: Jacob Hirsch-Holland
Images: Matthew Hardy www.matthardyphotography.co.uk

Jacob on the Maverick Slackline

An Interview With Maverick Slacklines

An Interview With Maverick Slacklines

Slacklining UkFor those who have never heard of slacklining, what is it exactly?

In basic terms, slacklining is the art of balancing on a length of webbing tensioned between two anchor points. Being a relatively new and progressive activity the boundaries of what’s possible on a line are consistently being pushed further and further… from simply balancing you progress to walking, turning and simple ‘static’ tricks, and from there you progress to bouncing, jumping, flipping, and combinations of tricks. The possibilities are endless…

How did you first hear about it?

Maverick crew have been slacking for a couple of years – we’d seen some pretty inspiring stuff on youtube mainly from America and this made us even more keen to get ‘tricking’ – we then became totally hooked.

POOLE PARK Slacklining UkHow accessible is slacklining, is it just a case of finding two trees?

With the dawn of ratchet tensioned lines slacklining has become extremely accessible. It remained fairly unheard of for many years due to the use of climbing gear being used to rig and tension lines. However, modern ratchet tensioned systems are very simple to use and inexpensive, opening up slacklining to an entirely new and much wider audience… It really is as simple as finding 2 anchor points, such as trees (parks are a great place to set up), and the line can be set up very easily in just a couple of minutes.

You can see how simple it is on the video below on how to set up a Maverick Slackline. This method is similar for all ratchet slacklines.

You have recently been advertising some club sessions on your facebook page within sports halls, how do you go about rigging the lines in an indoor environment?

At our indoor club, the lines are attached to floor-fixings and run over 2 purpose built boxes to raise the line off the ground. This set up can be utilised in many ways when trees or other anchor points are in short supply, for example on the beach we’ve dug in ground anchors and used simple A-frames to raise the line off the ground. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

How often are your club sessions, are they always in the same spot or do you move around – is there any cost involved to participate?

Currently we are running a weekly club at Ashdown Leisure Centre in Canford Heath on alternate Thursdays (details are posted on our FB site) – this is free to join and participate at the moment. The Sports Centre Manager is really cool about it and is already talking about rolling this out to other areas.

Everyone who comes along seems to get hooked pretty quickly and there’s a lot of interest.

SlacklineFor those of us living in towns and city centres, can you give any “to do’s” and “not to do” tips for the urban environment?

Careful selection of anchor points! Don’t tie off to anything you think you might break, slacklines can exert huge forces. Also, avoid sharp edges that could damage the line… It’s best to stick to trees if you’re unsure. Use large, strong trees of a type with tough bark and always take great care to protect them. An old towel or a piece of old carpet will do the job nicely…

Slacklining has actually beeen prohibited in the royal parks of London due to concern about damage to trees. Take every effort you can to protect the trees you are using and hopefully this won’t become a problem, being seen to be responsibly caring for the trees we are using will benefit the way slacklining is perceived by the general public

At what stage of walking lines yourselves did you start “Maverick Slacklines”?

We’d all been slacking on and off for a while, Jennings longer than the rest of us with two years under his belt – hence he’s got some good tricks nailed and some of us have got some catching up to do!

Maverick Slackline KitWhat were you doing before you made slacklines, do you have any other products or projects?

Maverick are best known for creating some of the best skateparks in the UK – Dorchester, Hairy Bobs in Scarborough, Midsomer Norton and more recently Halton in Lancashire are amongst the top UK parks. We set up a few years back to push the boundaries in skatepark provision and nowadays we are seen as one of the industry leaders.

Maverick Slackline KitDo you plan on extending your product line, and what are the benefits between different styles of line?

We’re currently developing a number of new product lines to add to the range – all under wraps at the moment but we’ll let you know when the time’s right.

Do you plan on more clubs throughout the summer, any big events you will be attending?

We’re meeting up with a number of people who want to start up their own slackline clubs to help them get started – we cant be everywhere and this is a great opportunity for ‘slackers’ to start their own local community. We’re happy to help with advice and support along the way.

We’ll definitely planning to be at some of the events this Summer. We’ve been commissioned to install a skatepark in Glastonbury later this year, and we’ll be demonstrating the lines at this year’s Glastonbury Festival – can’t wait for this one! We’ll also be doing the Windfest event at Sandbanks on the beach. Apart from that we are still planning which other venues we can fit in – we get requests pretty much daily for us to go and take part in something somewhere – it’s incredibly exciting to see the enthusiasm generated.

It must be pretty hard work up there on the line, would you recognise slacklining as a good form of exercise?

Slacklining is incredibly good excercise, it builds core strength, balance and mental focus and is recognised to build lateral stability in the knees. These things make it an excellent cross-training tool for other sports. It’s actually surprising how much it does exercise the body. It uses muscles you probably don’t even know you have!

Maverick Slackline For the more adventurous out there, there are lots of tricks you can pull off on the line. Where does the inspiration for these come from?

As different people from different backgrounds get involved, tricks and styles are becoming more varied. Some of the more basic ‘static’ tricks are essentially yoga postures, the more advanced moves are drawing inspiration from gymnastics, trampolining, even breakdancing. Now, slackline tricks are starting to develop organically as people become more familiar with the line and how it works and the progession of trick development is one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of slacklining, with new ‘firsts’ being claimed regularly.

What advice would you give to anyone reading this who would like to give it a try?

Get involved! This is something anyone can enjoy and can be extemely rewarding, whatever you’re ability…

Persevere ! Initially it can feel very daunting trying to stand on a thin, wobbly line, but with a couple of hours practise most people can start to get a feel for balancing. Once you’ve pushed through those early wobbles and trepidations and it starts to feel comfortable then the real fun can begin! Don’t expect to be doing backflips on your first session and enjoy learning the basics at your own pace… And respect the trees man…

Is there any shout outs or final words you would like to say?

We’d like to say a big thank you to our growing team of slackers who come along to our club and events regularly. The slackline scene is just about to explode in the UK and it’s really exciting to be a part of it.

Keep up with the word on the line with Maverick below:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/maverickslacklines
Maverick Blog – www.maverickslacklines.co.uk

Maverick Slackline