The still waters at East Coast Lagoon rippled to life again last Saturday evening, after close to two years of dormancy.
A new cable-ski operator, Singapore Wake Park, has taken over the 8,724 sq m space in East Coast Park. The Straits Times understands that the previous operator, SKI360 Degree, lost the tender to renew its lease to the new player, which is run by recreation and hospitality company Island Lifestyle Group.
The original SKI360 Degree first opened in 2006 and was Singapore's only cable-ski park. In such parks, wakeboarders or water-skiers are pulled by an electrically driven overhead cable system.
The other option is to go on the open waters and be pulled by a boat and there are a handful of such operators in Singapore.
The new player has made some big changes in rebuilding the cable-ski park, which is nestled between the East Coast Lagoon Food Village and East Coast Seafood Centre. There are now two beginner systems, apart from a full-sized cable system for experienced riders.
VISIT IT / SINGAPORE WAKE PARK
WHERE: 1206A East Coast Parkway
OPEN: 10am to 10pm (weekdays); 9am to 10pm (weekends and public holidays)
ADMISSION: From $40 an hour on weekdays and $60 an hour on weekends
"The full-sized system can be scary for newbies as it is constantly running and doesn't slow down. They might watch the experts ride smoothly and feel intimidated," explains the company's director Ekanaga Hatta, better known as Long.
Mr Hatta, 43, runs the Batam Cable-Ski Park on the nearby island too.
The systems run at a maximum speed of 31kmh, but the beginner versions are operator-controlled, meaning that the speed of the cable is adjustable. Newbies will start with a comfortable speed of about 20kmh before progressing to the maximum once they learn to stand.
Only one rider can head into the waters at any one time compared with the full-sized system, which can take up to six. An instructor will be present to guide the watersport novices and there will be a briefing even before they step on the boards.
Mr Hatta reveals that $4.5 million was pumped into the establishment.
Patrons need to be six and above to hit the waters and beginners start by learning to stand on the wakeboard. Once they can, they learn to execute turns. Eventually, they can progress to the full-sized system and do a complete round of the lagoon.
Later this year, obstacles will be added to inject more thrills for riders.
At the park, patrons can wakeboard, kneeboard and wakeskate, where the rider is not bound to the board. They can also waterski.
Equipment as well as compulsory helmets and life vests are provided.
Rates start from $40 an hour on a weekday.
Within the premises, there is Coastal Rhythm, a cafe-bar serving hearty Western and local fare as well as booze.
Although Island Lifestyle Group was awarded the tender in late December 2014, it took some time to gain all the necessary approvals to meet guidelines from various authorities.
Before it opened, the company had been regularly updating its close to 3,000 followers on its Facebook page since October last year.
Ardent wakeboarder Joanne Yan, 29, is stoked about the much-awaited opening. "I have been looking forward to the park's opening as it's been closed for a while now and there isn't any other cable-ski place," she says. The civil servant used to frequent the park when it was run by the previous operator and regularly heads to the Batam Cable-Ski Park.
Ms Joyce Chin, a mother of two girls aged 10 and 12, is willing to allow her children to try wakeboarding, with the beginner systems in place.
"We used to walk past, but thought it looked very professional," says the 47-year-old head of supply chain at a furnishings company. "At this new park with the beginner systems, I feel more settled about letting my kids try the watersport."