Wakeboarding goes underground in Lebanon

Dutch wakeboarder Duncan Zuur has a once-in-a-lifetime sesh — riding in Lebanon's Jeita Grotto.
By Josh Sampiero

NOTE: The project fulfilled stringent measures to preserve the grotto’s ecosystem, and was professionally undertaken in tight cooperation with the grotto’s administration and technical team. A special lighting technique and advanced production equipment were used to protect the grotto’s composition and safeguard its unique beauty.

While wakeboarding may have spun off waterskiing as an 'underground' sport in the 1990s, there's no question that the last decade has seen it go mainstream, with X-Games events, big-name stars, and spin-off sports of it's own like wake-skating and wake-surfing.

But Swedish rider Duncan Zuur is taking the sport back to its roots by going underground – and we mean literally. Lebanon's Jeita Grotto is a limestone cave system spanning nine kilometres, located just 11km north of Beirut. The caves – known to prehistoric man – were re-discovered in more modern times in 1836.

Duncan Zuur poses for a portrait during Red Bull Awaken The Grotto at Jeita Grotto in Lebanon on November 4th, 2013
Duncan Zuur, Swedish wakeboarder © Roger Moukarzel/Red Bull Content Pool

It's another adventure into the unknown for the wake community, which is determined to take their sport to places one would never expect to see it – like the rice terraces of the Philippines or the glaciers of Patagonia.

The caves – essentially accessible only by boat thanks to the underground river running through them – provide one of the most spectacular natural environments in the world. The biggest chambers soar up to 120m in height. To ride the Jeita Grotto, Zuur worked closely with the heritage site's curators, and the result is simply stunning. Says the pro wakeboarder: “I stopped thinking about riding, because there was so much beauty around from a world that I've never seen.”

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