Finnish Wakeboarder Aiming for Epic World Record

Erkka Lehtonen
Erkka Lehtonen | © Laguuni
This week, just outside of Finland’s capital, Erkka Lehtonen will attempt to set a new world record for wakeboarding.

Water sports enthusiast Lehtonen is aiming to hold on continuously for 12 hours, throwing in tricks and jumps along a way. While the water he rides on will be a very chilly 5°C, it’ll be the warmth from the sun that will keep the record attempt going, with solar panels providing the power.

For the uninitiated, cable wakeboarding is exactly the same as traditional wakeboarding, but rather than being pulled by a boat, a rider’s rope is attached to an electronic cable. The cable system sits raised (usually around 10 metres) above the water, being pulled, raised and dropped to give riders varying degrees of speed and ‘air’ to work with.

The big advantage of cable water sports is that with no boat needed to pull riders, there’s no petrol consumption taking place , so is far better environmentally. The cable where Lehtonen will attempt his record, in Espoo, Finland, is powered completely by solar power.

The attempt will be made on the May 4, 2018, kicking off at 6am at Laguuni wakeboarding park and recreational centre, with the cable track powered by solar panels developed by local energy company Fortum.

Erkka Lehtonen © Laguuni

‘The thought about attempting a world record has been there for a long time, now I just have to jump in and try it,’ says Lehtonen. ‘Spring isn’t really the ideal season for this as there isn’t much practice possibilities during the winter. This adds to the challenge and brings a right amount of excitement to the attempt.’

The record attempt will be streamed live so even if you can’t get to Laguuni, you can check on Lehtonen’s progress as he takes on his challenge.

Olli-Pekka Raatikainen, Product Manager at Fortum, explains, ‘We want to nurture the coastal nature and lifestyle consistent with sustainable development. Laguuni’s cable moves wakeboarders with clean solar energy and doesn’t produce any emissions or noise.’

Lehtonen, who was voted male wakeboarder of the year in Finland last year and co-founded Laguuni, has a clear objective beyond the record attempt itself, saying ‘We established the centre last year to bring water sports closer to people living in the city and that’s what this attempt is about, too.’

It should perhaps come as no surprise that the idea for the record came in Finland. The country’s 188,000 lakes mean that 10% of its landmass is actually underwater, and as a result all water sports are extremely popular. But while some see wakeboarding as a way to have fun, keep fit or pass the time, one particular individual sees it as an opportunity for a world-first.

Want to watch the record attempt live? It’ll be live streamed here.