Updated: Aug 28, 2019
What does a French waterski coach do in England? Well, that’s easy to explain. After being a competitor for many years on the French National team, Damien Ackerer started coaching at the Swiss Waterski Resort, Lacanau Sports Club and Baurech. During that time he met his British partner Taryn and together they moved to England where Damien started DAMS Watersport in Little Paxton, Cambridgeshire.
The ski school has three lakes, but only one of the lakes is used for waterskiing. One of the other lakes has a water park and the third lake is for swimming only. DAMS is a three event ski school with two coaches: Damien Ackerer and Will Bews. The ski lake is well protected from wind by trees and it has no backbash. It is a little short though, so you start your pass by making a turn first, which can be a bit difficult. But after a few passes you will get the hang of it. And, the coaching by Damien is very good, so you will soon forget about the turn and improve your skiing. Every season the ski school has a few waterski competitions, so it is best to check before you come.
OK, I know what you are thinking now: “Doesn’t it always rain in England? And isn’t it cold?”. To be honest, I had the same thoughts when we decided to come and stay at DAMS for the weekend. And yes, the weather wasn’t super great, but we found out that DAMS was actually the perfect place for a short weekend trip. Here’s why:
We flew from Amsterdam to Luton, picked up our rental car, and then it was only 50 minutes by car to the ski school. DAMS has a cabin with a bathroom and kitchen that you can rent when you want to stay at the ski school, but it is not always available, so please check with DAMS. During our first visit to DAMS, we stayed in the cabin, on our next visit it was booked. But we found a very nice place to stay on Airbnb in nearby St Neots, only 15 minutes from the site.
While your main reason to visit will probably be waterskiing, there is lots to do at the site if you bring non-skiing family members. You can go for a swim in the third lake, or take canoe. Or just relax around the club house and talk to the club members. Everyone is very friendly and will make you feel very welcome.
In between ski sets you can have a drink or a snack at the Swerving Café at the site. Ali, who runs the café, bakes the most delicious cakes and sausage rolls (try the granola bar, it is amazing!)
If you are bringing your kids, there is a water park on one of the other lakes: South Lake Aqua Park
I think that waterskiing and yoga is a perfect combination, and if you want to do yoga, there is an outdoor yoga studio on site, Wilderness Yoga by the Lakes. I tried the Release Yoga Flow with MariaElena and it was a combination of hatha, yin and meditation.
Imagine yourself lying outdoors on a yoga mat, early morning, there is a light breeze… the boat starts, you hear the sound of the waterskier swerving by and then the sound of the wakes in the weeds… Wilderness Yoga by the Lakes has daily classes and summer camps for kids and it’s open for visitors to book a class.
If you still have some time left after skiing, there are lots of interesting touristic things to do in the area. The first city that comes to mind is of course Cambridge, home to the famous University of Cambridge, only 40 minutes from the site. Bedford is also a nice town to visit, only 25 minutes from the site.
But don’t forget about the lovely town of St Neots, with lots of old characteristic buildings. Visit the small market and the city center on Saturday or go for a stroll along the river banks.
If you like hiking or running, the Riverside Park walkways and cycle paths run all the way south to Eaton Socon along the River Great Ouse. From St Neots the access to the park is via a pedestrian bridge over the river.
So you see, there are lots of reasons to visit DAMS, even in not-so-great weather. Try it, you won't be disappointed.
And did I mention great coaching by Damien? Oh I guess I did…