the latest

« Chronolog

Summer Fun: Boogie Like a Boss at the Bahn

We rode the wave for science, and you can too.
David Estlund, 4:50pm, Mon. Jun. 10, 2013

A few quick lessons on Schlitterbahn's premier attraction can transform an everyday schlub into the rebirth of slick. Almost.

Our feckless, fearless journalist riding the wave
photo by KXM

I abruptly awoke that morning to the sound of expletives in the next room; the wake-up call did not happen. Within seconds we were off, hurtling across this quiet Texas-German town to meet our destiny: a tete-a-tete with a triumphant combination of thrill ride and hydroengineering marvel, the Boogie Bahn, a “continuous wave surfing machine.”

Bahn, bahn, bahn, the formidable Boogie Bahn
photo by KXM

On arrival, we were greeted by the friendly smiles of Schlitterbahn’s media corps and introduced to Cathy Seabert, the official Schlitterbahn Boogie Bahn Instructor. It wasn’t until this moment that I realized this was more than a trivial indulgence provided to visitors with a press pass.

Intrepid Dave, Anderson Jr., and surfer Cathy go over the rules of the sport
photo by KXM

Hailing from Kailua, Hawaii, Seabert is an award-winning body-boarding veteran who is now gleefully offering lessons to newcomers young and old who, like me, might avoid such raucous fare and dawdle at a swim-up bar or lazy river instead. She’s everything you might expect, from the game smile to the wetsuit-clad swagger that makes it abundantly clear that her favorite place is aboard the board.

Schlitterbahn surf pro Cathy Seabert makes it look sooooo easy
photo by KXM
YNN's Chris Cybulski (aka Anderson, Jr.) selfies like a pro
photo by KXM

I immediately thought of my mussed hair, pasty office-softened body, and faded 15-year-old swimsuit, and I was overwhelmed by a profound gratefulness that I had at least brushed my teeth. My feelings of bedraggled inadequacy were compounded when I met my surfing buddy/partner/frenemy, a lithe, tanned, young Anderson-Cooper-in-training YNN reporter, whose hair easily withstood the pummelling of 5,000 gallons of water per minute, a fact that could not escape me as he repeated it endlessly into a handheld camera while surfing effortlessly atop the artificial wave, presumably for some upcoming news report.

David conquers nature... or manmade approximation of nature
photo by KXM

And though I resented it all, the endless smiles, the patient coaching, the soft bigotry of low expectations, and my eagerness to indulge the same, after a few tries (okay, several… no, many tries), I started to warm up to the experience. I managed to stay in place at the center of the churning machine; I even finally sat up on the board, and found myself enjoying the cheers and smiles of my overly-charitable company. I thought about having a go with that hand-held camera, inviting the world to witness my studio-perfect hair and pearly whites as I gracefully strode the wave. But then I came to my senses and toddled off to join the blissfully anonymous tube-floating public, after breakfast, of course.

Cathy and David, post Bahn bonding
photo by KXM

Boogie Bahn Lessons are offered from 9-10am for $10 through June 12 at the New Braunfels park, and through the end of August at other Schlitterbahn parks.


See more Summer Fun at austinchronicle.com/summer-fun.

Next in Chronolog: The Food Issue:
Book Yourself Some Eats »