Hayes McKell

Hayes McKell landed his first 360 at this summer's Russell Marine wake surf clinic.

Hayes McKell pumped his arms as his eyes opened to the size of dish plates after completing a 360 on a skim board last month while taking part in a Russell Marine wake sports clinic at The Ridge Marina with Sawyer Davis.

Davis blew the boat’s horn as Hayes’ younger brother Harrison congratulated him, too.

“That was his first one,” the younger McKell said with a smile.

It is not Davis’ first experience seeing a novice take on the growing sport of wakesurfing.

“I was out with a family giving a private lesson,” Davis said. “They hadn’t been able to get up on a board. Their 11-year-old daughter got up for the first time, and her eyes got real big. The whole family was happy. The father messaged me a while later and said she was still talking about it. He said, ‘It was worth every penny and then some.’”

Hayes is not a complete newbie, as he has been wakesurfing for a while.

“We got a surf boat in ’16,” Hayes said. “I have been doing surf clinics since last year. I have gotten around before but never landed it in the wake. This is the first time I have landed it.”

Davis, a Lake Martin native with a long history behind the boat, has been in the spot of the McKells before when he learned of wakesurfing through videos and decided to give it a try more than 10 years ago.

“Larry Bain taught me on a ski boat and a real surfboard,” Davis said. “I never thought I would let go of the rope.”

Davis even helps to develop wakesurfing boards on Lake Martin with Victoria Wake of California. An avid and accomplished wakesurfer, Davis offers input when the company is developing boards. He tests them on Lake Martin; and then, offers his analysis of how the boards performed, as well as makes suggestions for adjustments and other changes.

“Four boards have been developed on this lake,” Davis said. 

He’s expecting another shipment of prototypes to arrive at his door soon.

Davis has tried traditional surfing on the oceans, but as he first kicked up a board behind the boat, he finds the time between ocean waves difficult.

“It is with a 7-foot board and a lot of work,” Davis said. “You have to paddle a lot to get to a good wave. I showed an instructor wakesurfing, and he said no wonder you are bored.”

According to Davis, not just any boat will work for wakesurfing.

“Most of my job as an instructor is putting weight in the right places in the boat,” Davis said. “It’s finely tuned to get a wake like that.”

Russell Marine hosts several water sports clinics every summer. Look for next year’s wake sports schedule in the May 2020 issue of Lake magazine.