Dominik Hernler

Take 5: the renegade route

Words: Arek Piatek
Photography: Sam Strauss/Red Bull Content Pool

Austria’s Dominik Hernler discovers thrilling wakeboarding spots where you’d least expect them

1 RIVER
In a unique expedition, Austrian professional wakeboarder Dominik Hernler tests out spots in his home country that have never been considered wakeboard-worthy before. The star of the show is a mobile winch. “It turns every dam, lake or hydroelectric power plant into a playground,” says the 24-year-old. “First stop: Neuhofen on the River Krems. The winch pulled me through the emerald green water. I had to make sure I didn’t fall, as the river’s not even half a metre deep there. But that also gave the experience an edge.”

Dominik Hernler
“The great thing about dams are the artificial waterfalls: perfect for jumping”
Dominik Hernler

2 DAM
“The great thing about dams is the artificial waterfalls, which allow you to jump from one body of water into another. There was a cool 3m drop at this dam in Salzburg. I used the concrete piers as kickers. The trick I’m doing here is a Backside Nose Tap 180, a half-turn in the air with reverse landing in shoulder-deep water. It was just fantastic.”

Dominik Hernler

3 WALL
“A mobile winch means a wakeboarder isn’t dependent on boats or lifts anymore, so you can ride the craziest places. I was able to do wallrides on the concrete wall of a hydroelectric power station, and an incredible 6m drop at an old dam. The only problem with using the electric winch is that you have to drag a car battery around with you everywhere you go.”

Dominik Hernler
“Beneath me was what we call ‘the dead zone’. A fall here would have been fatal”
Dominik Hernler

4  ROCKS
“The location is Spittal an der Drau in Carinthia. I only risked doing the stunt here because I know the place like the back of my hand. The winch pulled me at full speed over a ramp I’d made myself at this narrow point in the river. Directly beneath me were rocks, a dead zone, as we say in the trade. Falling here would have been fatal. But I got the speed exactly right. I landed 3m further along in deep, ice-cold water.” 

Dominik Hernler

5 SHINGLE
“It’s maybe not completely clear from the photo (above), but this was actually the scariest moment of the whole route. After one jump on the Steinbach Dam, I was heading for the embankment at 25kph. There would have been problems if I’d let go of the rope too late. You can tell how fast I was going when I hit dry land by the size of the wake the board made in the water. I actually carried on for another 15m over the shingle – I was fine, the board less so.”

 

Dominik Hernler while testing out spots in Austria

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