Wakeskating the Erie Canal

Professional Wakeskater and Red Bull Athlete Brian Grubb Tackles Historic Waterway, Taking the Sport to New and Compelling Places

What once served as a connector for the Atlantic Ocean to the heartland of America, now serves as a site for the next level of watersports. Professional Wakeskaters Brian Grubb and Andrew Pastura took their skills to the now-retired lock system and surrounding areas of Western New York’s Erie Canal in order to challenge themselves while honoring a piece of US history.

Still relevant but modernized, a lock is a device used for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water with varying levels on river and canal waterways. The Lockport, New York, Locks are the most significant historic site from the Erie Canal era that is still in operating condition. Drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the Niagara region per year, the Lockport Locks Heritage District is on it’s way to be one of three North American restored 19th Century canalways currently in existence.

Wakeskating, an adaptation of wakeboarding similar to skateboarding on water, is a sport usually reserved for riding behind boats, going off man-made rails, pipes and kickers located in lakes and flat bodies of water across the country. The vast lakes and outdoor activities of the Western New York and Great Lakes Region in the summer months give the young sport a home amongst locals but “popping” off the antiquated-but-not-forgotten locks has never been done before.

Red Bull Athlete Brian Grubb, who is considered an innovator and pioneer in the sport of wakeskating, spent ten years of his life in the New England area. He’s won numerous championship titles and brought the sport to the ends of the earth, including the rice patties of the Philippines, the swamps and bayous of New Orleans, the Cranberry Bogs of Wisconsin and the Kimberly Region of Western Australia. He, along with friend and leader of the next generation of wakeskaters, Andrew Pastura, from Cincinnati, can appreciate the uniqueness of a location like the 200-year-old lock system with its 12-foot drop and narrow causeway.

“It’s been a quite an accomplishment and great honor to bring wakeskating to the lock system and the Erie Canal of Upstate New York”, says Grubb. “The large drop from one lock to another was bigger than anticipated but being a part of history made it all worth it.”

Alan Perlman
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