Cable History

Cable parks began to appear in the 1960s thanks to Bruno Rixen, a graduate engineer and an avid water skier. With a passion for the sport and a desire to make it more accessible, the Rixen cable system was born.

Big Bro cable system at dusk.

Rixen Seilbahen

  • Originators of the cable water park.

Cable History

Collage of Bruno Rixen pics.

1960-1964 Prototype

The graduate engineer Bruno Rixen, an addicted water-skier always asked himself why this magnificent sport was not more popular. A market research showed that waterskiing had two big disadvantages: to expensive and not very efficient.

The idea of a water-ski cableway had to be realized. After spending a lot of time and money on prototypes during two summers, there was no turning back. In the year 1961 Bruno Rixen founded his company RIXEN SEILBAHNEN. Additional to the technical challenges, there were early financial difficulties to cope with. But, Bruno Rixen kept on inventing and developing as he took his power from the feeling of success and his pleasure in waterskiing.

37 Inventions had been patented since the inception of the cable system. The profitability of a cableway was only given when several skiers could drive continuously at the same time. Therefore, the problem of the start was the biggest problem to solve, as it is not possible to stop the cableway each time to engage a skier. Bruno Rixen positioned the skier not under the cable, but to the side, a full line length from the cable. The skier accelerates continuously until he is below the running cable. The tow line is attached promptly but the skier is accelerated slowly up to the running cable speed. This solution which seems so simple was the groundbreaking innovation which built the basis for each water ski cableway today.

Despite all these important innovations and years of experiments with cable guide, cable twist and derailing, Bruno Rixen was still in the early stages of waterskiing with a water ski cableway.

Collage of pics from the first cable system.

1965-1969 Prototype to Production

The running cable had to be improved so that it had a durability of at least 1000 hours for 100 summer days. Today the durability of the running cables with 11,000 hours is equivalent to 8 years of use. After two years of attempts with a prototype in Hamburg and another two years with a larger prototype on the Baltic Sea, the first commercial Rixen water-ski cableway was build in Benidorm, Spain in 1966. 40 years later with over 50,000 operating hours, the water-ski cableway in Benidorm is still successfully working despite the hard conditions (saltwater, off shore, long season).

Rixen cable system in the snow.

1970-Present Advancing the Sport

Since 1976 water-ski cableways have been built with a 10mm running cable. Enormous operating experience has been made during this time. The technical demands of the water-skiers, wakeboarders and the cableway owners has increased continuously and has been kept up by constantly improving the system. The systems have also been utilized by snowskiers and snowboarders throughout the years.

The technical development has changed the drive concept from the old belt drive to the state of art frequency regulated, computer steering drive with newest touch screen displays. This steering type eases the work of the operator, takes over a lot of working steps and offers the operator much more time to take care of his riders. Additionally, the safety measures have also been raised. Due to over 40 years of experience and close cooperation with the numerous water-ski cableway clients, the Rixen water-ski cableways are known as the safest and most reliable on the market. Today there are over 150 Rixen cables in 33 countries and on all continents at which about 390,000,000 kilometers have been skied on Rixen Cables. Today Rixen can manufacture systems that run either direction: clockwise or counterclockwise. Rixen has produced a system that has multiple starting docks to maximize throughput. Rixen has also developed techniques to ensure long life spans of systems installed in salt water environments. Rixen continues to develop and improve the system, always trying to provide the best possible product to the market.

In the 90’s, Rixen began to develop the idea of a two-tower system, originally called the “Easy Start.” This system was initially designed to help beginners, but quickly became a favorite training device for professional wakeboarders and wakeskaters. This system has been through numerous designs ensuring that it is truly the safest system possible before bringing it to the market. In 2008, on a site trip in Jamaica Mike Olson and Blake Hess helped rename the new system the Little BRO. The new name fit perfect because the system is a ideal compliment to a full size system (Big BRO) or may work as a stand alone product. The acronym BRO stands for Bruno Rixen Original and applies to both the big and Little BRO After installing at least ten Easy Start systems in Germany, McCormick’s (Tampa, FL) installed the U.S.’s first commercial two tower system in 2008. In 2009 Texas Ski Ranch will be installing the newest version of the easy start, the Rixen Little BRO.