NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - No boat? No wakeboard? No problem. We're just weeks away from the opening of a first of its kind attraction in North Myrtle Beach.
The city passed an ordinance back in September to lease 12 acres of lake at the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex to Apex Cable Parks. Construction began in April, and now, operators say they're looking at a June grand opening.
Shark Wake Park is an electrical cable system that will give you the thrill of wakeboarding, kneeboarding or water skiing...without the boat. The cables are involved to get everyone out on the water without the expense of owning your own equipment. The cables had their first official test runs Wednesday and are ready for the crowds, but right now the rest of the park is still under construction. A beer garden, pro shop, viewing deck and concession stand will also be featured in the grand opening.
"This facility is in front of so many different people…half a million people are already coming to this park right now - this sports complex - for baseball, for soccer, who have never seen this before, and we get to put it right in front of them and we get to grow the sport that way," Norman said.
The addition is a direct reflection of the tourist footprint in North Myrtle Beach. The latest Coastal Carolina University study estimated direct tourism spending in the Grand Strand to total $4.8 billion a year. Owner and operator Greg Norman Jr. said the newest attraction is another way to capitalize because the community is missing the water sports link.
The cable system is different from others in the U.S. because it's the tallest in the country. The height actually helps stabilize the rider being pulled and there's seven towers in all, with a separate cable for kids. To give it a try, you grab your gear from the shop and hop on from the dock. An operator helps you, but from there, you're on your own.
The speed caps off at 19 miles per hour, but if you know what you're doing and want to slalom or do flips, it goes up to 42 miles per hour.
"This is actually the tallest full-size wake park in the United States. The first Alta Cable System in the United States...we've got the tightest pull, highest corners, makes it easiest for any beginner to get around, and for an advanced pro-rider to get the highest amplitude in high tricks," Norman said.
Norman said the grand opening will feature an entire professional wakeboarding team and two of the professional wakeboarding employees will show their sport in the water. There'll also be food and music. The team is excited to get more people in the community involved in the growing sport. Norman says cable wakeboarding is on the short list for the 2020 Olympics.
Types of passes include a season, day and hourly pass. Prices vary. Wakeboard equipment is rented on site.
WMBF will be the first to give you the full preview before the June opening. Stay tuned.