Summertime Fun at Velocity Island Park
● By Jordan Venema
By Jordan Venema
Photos by Eric Leslie
Photos Courtesy of Velocity Island Park
IN 1985, Tony Finn created the Skurfer: great idea, perhaps not so great a name. The board was a cross between a surfboard and water skis (get it?), and remained somewhat of an obscure water sport through its first decade, until the rebranded wakeboard began to take off in the 1990s and 2000s. Now wakeboarding is the fastest-growing water sport in the world.
Maybe the fastest growing, but perhaps not a sport you’d quickly associate with Woodland, the agriculturally focused city north of Sacramento. But when Velocity Island Park opened five years ago, its name took into consideration how rapidly the sport is growing, and how fast its riders can move.
Velocity Island Park began with a wakeboard cable, an alternative to being pulled by a motor board. Essentially, a cable suspended 12 feet above the water pulls riders clockwise around the park’s lake.
“The cable itself can take anybody from beginner to professional level,” says Michael Saade of Velocity Island Park. “There are multiple carriers on the cable, so someone sits on the dock and as the carrier comes around it picks up the rope in their hand.”
Unlike a motorboat, the cable allows for multiple boarders to “ride” the cable simultaneously, and to consistently attempt obstacles placed along the cable, like rails and ramps.
“If the park is overcrowded we limit each ride to three to five laps,” says Saade, “otherwise you go until you fall.” And then it’s just a matter of getting back to the dock and in line and waiting for another go.
Packages include two-hour, four-day and full-day sessions and range between $39 and $59. The park provides rental equipment for visitors who don’t have their own.
The park also offers wakeboarding lessons, “and part of that package is a get up guarantee,” Saade says. “Basically, if they don’t get up, the lesson is free.”
Velocity also opened its Aqua Park in 2014, which operates from the middle of May into the fall.
“Our Aqua Park is a 37,000-square-foot inflatable, floating obstacle course,” which includes slides, ladders, and swings, Saade says. “You can do an hour in the Aqua Park and when you’re done, you’re fatigued.”
The Aqua Park also offers a birthday package that includes pizza, soft drinks and two 50-minute sessions for each kid.
“Those kids should go home at the end of the night and not be a burden to their parents,” he says with a laugh.
A 50-minute block in the Aqua Park costs $15 on weekdays and $20 on the weekend.
More than wakeboarding and obstacle courses, Velocity Island Park allows guests to enjoy its lake at a designated beach area, to enjoy beach volleyball or rent paddleboards. Entrance to the park is free, though it is $10 a person to hang out on the beach.
The lake also has a private island and cabana “that you can rent out for an event,” says Saade. “But really, the park is good for any kind of party.”
If you’d rather not wakeboard, run the course, laze about the beach or try your hand at volleyball, there is also a restaurant where you can grab a wood-fired pizza, and a beer and wine bar where you can sit and view a few professional wakeboarders catching air.
Perhaps Woodland hasn’t had the reputation as the wakeboarding capital, but then Saade says, “California has a fairly large wakeboard scene.” And if anything can be learned from Finn’s invention the Skurfer, sometimes big things have unexpected origins. •
Velocity Island Park • 755 N. East St., Woodland
(530) 723-6885 • www.velocityislandpark.com