Hubert Burda Media

Exploring Hong Kong’s Latest Summer Pastime: Wakesurfing

An exclusive interview with competitive athletes JD Webb and Shawn Watson.


Seize what’s left of summer in your final attempts to get bronzed and beautiful. What better way to soak up the sun than to experiment with Hong Kong’s now trending watersport: wakesurfing. The sport has been around for decades, but has only been catching more waves on this side of the world in the past year or two. It’s the fastest-growing watersport out there, and with this demand and our city’s constant crave for a city escape, we jumped onboard the latest Nautique boat with Asia Yachting to learn a few tricks from pro wakeboarder and wakesurfer Shawn Watson and JD Webb.


Left: Shawn Watson; Right JD Webb | Credits to photographer: Annie Yuen


Tips for wake surf beginners 

JD Webb:Spend more time on the water. Just like anything, the more you do it — like anything in life — the better you will be. Getting a good coach who knows what they’re doing is really key for a beginner too, just because you could pick up bad habits when you try to teach yourself. Get behind a good boat, like the Nautique, so that the waves are nice and big, it makes it a lot easier. Start slow with baby steps, and don’t try to run before you can walk.

Shawn Watson: I suggest learning from a good boat. The Nautique has the G23 which has the biggest wake possible, which is amazing, but it can get a bit intimidating. It’s best to learn at a slow pace and get comfortable with a small wake. Work your way up. But the most important thing is to have fun. A lot of people take it too seriously and think too much. Most of the time people are really stiff. So I always recommend people to relax! If you just go out and have fun, it typically works out.


On training and general fitness

Shawn: This time of the year, we’re on the water non-stop. But when we’re not wakeboarding or wakesurfing, we hit the gym and work on strengthening. It’s also really important to stretch! I don’t do it enough, but I recommend to do as much stretching as possible. I’ve been wakeboarding for 22 years now and it can be hard on your body so I try to do everything I can to stay strong and healthy.

JD: Doing what we do, there’s a lot of impact and compression to your body. Having good knees and a strong core is important. When it comes to wakesurfing, the more you ride, the better. You’re constantly bending your legs when you’re surfing the wave, so that’s just like doing squats the entire time you’re up there. It sounds horrible, but the more you train your lower body, the more it helps to wakesurf.


When not wake surfing and wake boarding

JD: I grew up in Anna Maria Island just off the coast of Florida. I grew up in the ocean so I really enjoy ocean surfing. I do a lot of bungee jumping. Lots of adrenaline stuff. I like to test myself and do some scary stuff once in a while!


JD Webb | Credits to photographer: Annie Yuen


Favorite destination

Shawn: I was just telling someone the other day that one of the coolest places that I’ve been is Hong Kong! It comes with the job but I get to travel to many places – Japan, Tahiti, The Philippines, Australia, South America – we’ve seen some cool places. When I’m back at home, they all see our Instagram feeds and they’re all like OMG, that looks like the best trip. When Asia Yacht reached out and wanted an athlete, there were a lot of athletes that wanted to come, but luckily, JD and I are the ones that got to visit this time. I’ve gone to a lot of places and the best experiences that I’ve had were probably here in Hong Kong – in and out of the water.

JD: That’s really hard! There’s something different than the last place. Hong Kong has been unreal so far. We haven’t had the best weather, but everyone has been super nice! I love Japan — the food, the culture, the people are amazing. I like Australia and New Zealand a lot too. I grew up as an ocean surfer, so being in the ocean is really important and I love that aspect of those countries. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore the world and experience so many different cultures and meet so many different people. I’m very fortunate.


What’s next

Shawn: JD is continuing on to Japan. I’ve got to head back for some events that are happening at home in Florida. In two weeks, we have another trip to Lake Powell – it’s like the Grand Canyon on water! It’s all desert and rocks, tall cliff walls! It’s like another planet!

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