Gone to the Lake

A 270 Sundeck and a lake house in the Texas Hill Country provide the Jarzombeks with premium thrills.

The glistening, beating heart of Texas—during the summer, at least—has got to be Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. Locals rave about “LBJ” for its constant level, thanks to the fact that it provides cooling water for a power plant. That might be part of the appeal for the Jarzombek family, but after so many years of making the 90-mile trip from their home in San Antonio to their lake house getaway and the 270 Sundeck they keep there, LBJ holds more than just water; it’s flooded with memories as well.

“The lake, the house and those boats are a big chapter in our lives,” Frank Jarzombek says, a hint of nostalgia creeping into his voice. “We’ve been coming here for 15 years. Even when the weekends started being consumed by high school sports, we made every effort to get here.” The lake house sits on Applehead Island in Horseshoe Bay. “It’s pretty picturesque,” Frank adds, looking out from the dock.

270 Sundeck

Logically, Frank and his wife, Julie, decided that in order to enjoy said beautiful lake, they needed a beautiful boat. Enter their first Sea Ray, a 220 Sundeck, which they bought when the kids were in elementary school. “We just prefer the quality and the look of a Sea Ray,” Frank says. “And boat for boat, the brand represents a great value.”

Eventually they upgraded to a 240 Sundeck and now the 270. “They got bigger, and all of their friends got bigger,” Frank says with a laugh. He squints in the bright sunlight and grins at daughter Morgan (now 21) and son Matthew (18) as they board the 270 for a Sunday afternoon on the water. “Plus, Troy Triplett knows how to catch me on a good day,” Frank says of his salesman at Sail & Ski Center in San Antonio. “That dealership has been around for a long time. You know you can trust them.”

This summer marks a big turning point in the Jarzombek household: It’s the last one before Frank, who works in IT, and Julie, a stay-at-home mom, officially become empty nesters. “I want this summer to be long and enjoyable,” says Matthew, who will be heading off to Texas A&M in the fall. Morgan happens to be graduating from the same university this spring and will spend this summer at home with her family while on the job hunt. Son Griffin (29) lives in Carbondale, Colorado, but comes home as often as he can to hit the lake. This season will be a “last hurrah” of sorts and, bittersweet though it may be, the family members all intend to make the most of their time on LBJ.

The kids’ friends are always eager to tag along, too. “I can’t even remember a time when it was just us,” Frank says. He looks at his family to confirm his suspicions. They are quick to agree. “We can fit a lot of people on the boat,” Matthew says with a sheepish shrug. Who can blame him, though? A daredevil needs an audience.

Gearing Up

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He uses the swim platform to gear up for an afternoon of wakeboard practice. He says he’s a little rusty after the winter and wants to get back out behind the boat to prepare for his adventures at Texas A&M, where he plans to join the university’s wakeboard team.

“My sister had a friend whose older brother put out a wakeboarding video,” Matthew says, explaining how he first got into the sport. “I thought it looked cool, so I had to try it.” Through friends, Frank and Julie found Matthew a starter board. He borrowed a Hyperlite board for the whole summer when he was just nine years old and then bought his own the next year.

Now he’s using a 2015 Hyperlite Shaun Murray Pro Model Wakeboard. “First of all, I love it,” he says. “The Murray is really aggressive, but it’s also great if you’re just looking to play around and have fun.”

That’s the perfect mix for Matthew, who likes to practice until he gets it right, but also likes to kick back and enjoy his surroundings. “I’ll grab four, five, six of my buddies and bring them up here,” he says. “And even if we’re not wakeboarding, we like to hang out and cruise around.”

That’s one of the things the family really likes about the 270 Sundeck: It’s great for cruising, thanks to the quiet propulsion of the MerCruiser® Bravo III Sterndrive. “I was sensitive to whether the engine was going to be too loud,” Frank says. “So once we test drove the 270, it was a done deal. The decibel rating is way down. You can actually hear the stereo!”

The seating arrangement on the 270 was also a selling point for the Jarzombeks, who enjoy anchoring. They love the articulating aft lounger that serves as a swiveling, adjustable sunpad. And the family wouldn’t have traded in Mo’ Money (their second boat, a play on Morgan’s name) for a new vessel unless it could cut the mustard as a wakeboarding boat.

“The boat is great,” Matthew says as he gets into the water. “The trim tabs at the back are a key feature. They let you change the wake; you can make it a lot cleaner so you have more control.” Frank hauls his son around LBJ for a few turns while Morgan and Julie spot and cheer. Once warmed up, Matthew’s ready to work on jumps and grabs. After a good bit of practice, he climbs back in the boat to take a rest and shoot the breeze with his family.

He describes learning his first big invert, a heelside backroll. The trick is exactly as it sounds; a wakeboarder uses his or her heelside edge to launch over the wake and follow the board around in a loop or flip. Now Matthew says his favorite is the air raley, a wake-to-wake jump. “First of all, it looks cool,” Matthew explains. “It makes you feel like you’re flying in the air.” Now that he’s talked about it, he can’t resist a demo, and no one’s protesting, so he hops back in the water.

In this maneuver, Matthew starts out by riding on the outside of the wake to the toe side of the boat. He then takes an aggressive approach toward the wake. As he rides up it, he keeps his heel edge down, and as he rides off the wake, he lets the water kick his core and legs back into the air until he’s extended horizontally over the water, looking like Superman in flight. Finally, he lands on the other side of the opposite wake, sticking the landing like a true gymnast.

“The first time I tried a raley, I wiped out pretty hard,” he says, toweling off. “Three hours later I tried it again. If you want to make any progress, you have to take some of those hard falls and try again.”

After Matthew’s superhero display, the Jarzombeks spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company. For them, that’s what being at the lake is all about.

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