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

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

“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

“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

“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

“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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