Phillip Smith turns his love of riding the water into Louisiana's first full-sized cable wake park on Mills Street.
Phillip Smith turns his love of riding the water into Louisiana's first full-sized cable wake park on Mills Street. Story and Photos by Kari Walker
Friday, July 19, 2013
When he was 13 years old, Phillip Smith developed a love for the sport of wakeboarding, but never did he dream his passion would become Louisiana's first full-size cable wake park, Cajun X Cables. Phillip, along with his father Raymond, are business partners operating this unique concept at 2211 Mills St. in Lafayette - a wakeboarders' oasis sandwiched between the boundaries of Scott and Carencro where no boat is required to ride the waters.
The 27-year-old, a competitive wakeboarder since 2005, has traveled to other states, like Texas, where cable wake parks are part of the landscape (the closest to Cajun X Cables is located in Houston). Those experiences along with urges from friends wanting a similar concept close to home prompted Phillip to draw up a business plan. His initial idea was to build a smaller style park, but dad Raymond had something bigger in mind.
"I showed a video to my dad of the larger product [in Texas], but I was only looking to do [a] smaller [version]," Phillip says of his pitch to his father. Raymond decided the idea was worth the full scale investment of more than $2 million, and in 2011, the dig for the wake park lake commenced on 36.4 acres owned by the Smith family. The 18-acre, man-made lake that is EPA-safe for recreational sports was completed in late 2012, and Cajun X Cables opened for business April 27.
The cable park functions similar to how a chair-lift at a snow ski resort works - riders wait on shore for a rope to approach and the cable operator assists riders in take off. The cable operator has the ability to customize the controls for wakeboard beginners to experienced riders. It's the water version of a skate park where customers of any level of skill can come and experience wakeboarding - from children to adults.
The park also features ramps for experienced wakeboarders to practice difficult jumps. Cajun X Cables provides water sport enthusiasts the ability to enjoy their love of the water without the need for a boat or to search for open water safe for riding. "Over half the crowd comes from surrounding states," Phillip says, recalling visitors from Texas, Oklahoma and Florida traveling I-10 on vacation. Business also draws in state travelers from Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and New Orleans. Locals make up the other half of his customers, and the majority of those clients are beginners who learned of the park by word of mouth. Prices for the park start at $15 for an hour or $40 to ride all day, but to boost the confidence of beginning riders, especially women, Phillip is offering a promotion in July where ladies ride for $10 all day.
Since opening, the park is exceeding Phillip's expectations, and plans are in the works for continued expansion with the addition of a building to house a pro shop to sell wakeboard gear.
"It's a multimillion dollar project, and it's still growing," says Phillip. For more information, visit Cajun X Cables online at www.cajunxcables.com.