Orla Winn and Charlotte (Lotte) Docherty are young rising stars of Scottish cable wakeboarding. A sport that not many may be familiar with. But here at SW/S we always love to give a new platform to sports and the women taking part in them the coverage they deserve.
Wakeboarding involves the rider standing on a single board, similar to a snowboard or skateboard, and being pulled across the water by an overhead cable. Riders use features such as kickers (ramps) and rails to complete a selection of tricks that make up the language of the sport.
Orla is 16 and has just completed her Highers at school. She became World Champion in the Traditional Competition at the recent WWA World Wake Park Championships in Windsor as well as taking 2nd place in the Features Only Competition.
Lotte is in her third year of secondary school. She has been wakeboarding for 4 years and is currently ranked number 1 in the UK for her age category and third in the world. She took third place in the Features Competition at the WWA World Wake Park Championships in July.
Both the girls have just returned from Denmark where they competed in the European Championships. Lotte finished fifth in her category despite an ankle injury in the run up. With Orla finishing 7th in the U18 category. At this event, Orla also represented Team GB in the Open Ladies event, competing against professional riders for the first time. Both performances helped Team GB finish second overall in the Youth & Senior Event.
Lotte and Orla came in to the sport through the Active Schools programme & Foxlake Development Squad. Both girls make use of the System 2.0 facilities available at in Dunbar and when in Scotland. They travel to in Nottinghamshire & in Windsor to practice on their full cables.
On a full cable, riders are pulled by a circular cable suspended from five or six towers and complete laps on a ‘wake park’– competitions normally take place on these cables. System 2.0 or straight line cables are typically smaller and see riders go out and back over the same piece of water, the nature of these allow riders to practice tricks over and over on the same obstacle.
We discussed their training schedule and both typically train once or twice a week in Scotland as well as making regular trips down south to train on the full system they require for competition. Both supplement their on water training with gym work, a mixture of weights and cardio. Orla remarked that she enjoys the flexibility of her training, there is no set agenda and it can fit around school and life.
We discussed how a lot of their training is very individual, with there typically not being a club environment for them to train in other than when travelling and competing as Team GB. I asked the girls how they found training on their own the majority of the time.
Lotte explains this unique sporting experience: “I quite like it being individual but I like the team aspect as well. Individually it gives you some space. When you’re out on the water all you’re thinking about is wakeboarding you don’t have to think about anything else,
“The team aspect is being a team player and sportsmanship. When you’re with riders who are at the same level, if not better, than you it spurs you on to try new stuff.”
Orla reiterates that although a lot is done solo, you do get a good balance of socialising: “Although it’s not a team sport I do like the fact that you can have a mixture of social and personal wakeboarding. When you go out and ride you’re in your own bubble.”
We then discussed what they love about wakeboarding- what motivates them and what has attracted them to stay in the sport over others they have tried. Both show the freedom the sport provides both as an escape and as an opportunity to express individuality, as well as the great community feel amongst participants.
“It’s such a fun sport. I find it quite thrilling, the adrenaline rush when you land a new trick. You can add your own style to the tricks, you know, your own steeze. There’s unlimited possibilities. It also gives me freedom from everyday stresses. I love meeting up with friends who enjoy the same thing and meeting new people from around the world”, explains Orla.
Lotte goes on to say: “I love that every time you go out you can try something different. It’s not repetitive. Once you’ve learned something there is always something else to learn and you can add your own flair. It is such a social sport and everyone is so supportive of each other. Because it’s not a big sport, most people know each other and it creates a great team environment.”
Regardless of whether it’s a sport with huge coverage or one that’s not yet part of the Olympics line-up. There is always the discussion about how many women are in the sport and how equal the playing field is.
We went on to discuss how they have found being a young female athlete at the top of their sport. Both have seen real progress even in the short time they’ve been involved, with more women entering the sport. Lotte began by saying: “It’s really exciting to be at the top of your sport and especially being a girl. In wakeboarding it’s now starting to get a lot more equal but before it was mostly male dominated. It’s been really sick to see the sport progress, even in the past few years that I’ve been doing it. So many women have come into the sport and they’re absolutely smashing the wakeboard scene. It’s really inspirational to see some of the tricks they’ve been doing, they’re on par with the men.”
Orla added: “It [gender difference] hasn’t really registered to be honest apart from the fact that the boys used to get more money if they won than the girls. This is now changing and women are now seen as equals. I just enjoy the wakeboarding, learning new tricks and having my own individual style. The amount of females taking part in the sport is increasing every year and it’s really good to see. The girls can bang out tricks just as good as the men these days. It’s nice to get compliments for my riding but I also like to pass on tips to others, whether male or female when I’m at the various wake parks. People appreciate that and I appreciate it when people give me tips too.”
Orla and Lotte are now looking ahead to the British Nationals in Bournemouth next month where British titles will be up for grabs. They will then be heading off to Thailand with Team GB for the IWWF World Championships at the end of October, a trip both, are absolutely buzzing about. That will round off their season then they will continue to train through the winter with hot water bottles and hot chocolate at the ready for after those cold water sessions! Both have aspirations to join Team GB again next year for future European and World level competitions.
To see how the girls get on and follow their progress, follow them on Facebook or Instagram using the links below.
Facebook: Lotte Doc.
To find out more about the sport, visit Waterski & Wakeboard Scotland.
Facebook: Waterski & Wakeboard Scotland