Hundreds of slackliners of all shapes and sizes descended on Nexen Beach for the fifth annual Hevyfest on Saturday (July 28).
Billed as North America's original slackline festival, the event continues to grow and according to participants, the sport is not quite as hard as it seems.
Xavier Vivas, who runs Absolute Slacklining in Vancouver and the slacklining.ca website, said all it takes is practice and patience.
“I've been doing it for about a year or so and it's not so difficult as it seems,” he said. “If you keep it up and stay dedicated, you'll be able to be pretty good in not that long of a time.”
Vivas said the sport is inexpensive, adding that he thinks it has a bright future.
“Twenty years from now, you never know — it could be in the Olympics,” he said. “And all you really need are a pair of flat shoes. It's very affordable.”
Vivas's company sells slacklines, which range in price from $64.99 to $79.99 and he recommends that those who are interested check out information about the sport online.
For Aaron Butcher, slacklining was something to do to pass time while working as a tree planter in Ontario.
“I started about five years ago when I was tree planning in Thunder Bay and got the hang of it pretty quickly,” he said.
According to Butcher, the sport is growing all across the Lower Mainland, with Kitsilano Beach and several local gyms offering classes. But he said the future in the sport is with the kids.
“I run camps for kids in Vancouver and they just love it,” he said. “They love circus arts and crazy tricks and it really calms them and helps them learn balance. Another thing I want to do is bring all the different slacklining communities in the Lower Mainland together. They're all spread out and tend to do their own thing, so it's good to have a festival like this to bring us all together.”
Butcher said his Skyway Slacklining group is a good place for newcomers to gain knowledge about the sport, but added that it's all about maintaining a calm attitude about what looks like an impossible skill to master.
“I like to get my students to treat it as a balancing act,” he said. “You need to attain a level of calmness and just lose any tension you have. Some people get on the line and they're worried about falling, but you just have to not worry about it and stay calm.”
Organizers said more than 100 people hit the lines at Nexen Beach during the event and Hevyfest will continue to grow and expand for 2013.