The Darwinism of Wakeskating

The Darwinism of Wakeskating

Remember the ol’ Sfumato days when wakeskating was predominately done behind a boat?  With the development of wakeskating and the increasing overall technicality of tricks being thrown everyday, it’s obvious why riders are choosing to take a different approach to riding.  And, of course, we having to drain your pockets to pay for filling up your boat is another obvious reason.  But, is riding behind a boat becoming a thing of the past for new, up-and-coming wakeskaters?

I do not necessarily think so, however, the influences of wakeskating are definitely taking more of a turn towards winch, cable, and PWC; and have ben doing so for quite some time.  Who can deny it, though?  You can learn so much behind the ski, and at a faster pace; you can hit spots that are considered unthinkable with a winch; and cables are popping up all over the place.  Getting out there behind the boat, unfortunately, seems as though it may become a lost art.

All the seasoned veterans of the sport no doubt have an insane bag of tricks wake-to-wake.  We will never forget when Aaron Reed tossed that first wake-to-wake 3-Shuv, or when Stu Shin stuck that backside 360 Bigger Spin; so it’s crazy to see that riders are slowly pumping the breaks in terms of pushing the progression of boat riding?

For those that are questioning the title of this piece or are wondering how Darwinism ties into wakeskating, well, here goes: Darwinism is the theory of evolution through natural selection where one method of thriving pushes out another and becomes the dominant force in the world.  I feel this is exactly what is happening with wakeskating today.

I think riders are putting a pause on pushing the envelope behind the boat with the increasing popularity of The Wakeskate Tour; which has taken a whole new approach to wakeskating – an approach that has pushed the sport into the right direction. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe the progression that comes from each stop is absolutely ridiculous and is definitely stepping over the boundaries of what anyone thought could be possible on a wakeskate.  I feel as though everyone heavily involved with wakeskating is simply trying to adapt to an ever-changing riding environment where boat riding is just not within their best interests at the moment.

Majority of riders are more so focused on pushing their creativity down the array of rails, ledges, and drops that each stop of The Wakeskate Tour has to offer.  Every stop is unique in itself, and it’s amazing to see how every athlete puts their own twist down each setup.  Stop#2 of The Wakeskate Tour, The Texas Two-Step, truly showed where the progression of wakeskating has moved.  That drop was mammoth, the rails were intimidating, and the tricks landed were ridiculous.  Every rider killed it and it was awesome seeing how technical those guys got on such a beefy setup.

Aside from the contest scene, riding boat is nowhere out of the norm.  There is nothing like breaking the fog off the water and getting in that 6 AM ride before work.  I do not feel as though wakeskating behind the boat will ever disappear for good, but based on the current state of the sport it has no doubt slightly subsided.  Back just a few years ago there used to be multiple new edits up online weekly from riders crushing it behind the boat, but now it seems like everything has shifted its gears to all winch, cable, or PWC.  For good reasons, too – it’s the direction that everyone pushing wakeskating wants to take the progression of the sport.

All in all, wakeskating has evolved at a rapid pace over the past decade.  From wood decks to compression molded skates, bi-levels, and concave wood skates; wakeskating seems as though it has found its niche.  With the help of its core followers and the masterminds behind the scenes that make everything possible, wakeskating will certainly prevail through thick and thin.  But, let’s not forget where the roots of all this ultimately are.  So, with that being said, I’ll end this with one of my favorite clips from way back that inspired me to get out and wakeskate years ago and a shot clip of me riding behind our Nautique 210 Byerly Edition.  Enjoy!

Heavy Times.

In my 12 years of wake i’ve seen some pretty gnarly injuries.  I’m guessing 8 out of 10 of my closest friends have had a knee surgery or two…it sucks.  Support is the one thing that you can always count on with your friends and family when it comes to these harsh times being on injury reserve.  Well those pale in comparison to the news that we heard with Reed Hansen’s update last week on Matt Manzari.  To add to such seriousness was when we heard the news yesterday about Brad Smeele and his horrific injury while riding.  It’s not my place to get into the details, but it is my opinion that if you have the ability to help you should.  Support these men in their time of need.  Imagine if it was your brother, son, friend.  United We Ride.

Matt Manzari: http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/manzari-family/198931

Brad Smeele: www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/bradsmeele

Top 5 Things a 1st Time Cable Rider Needs to Know

Cable parks are popping up everywhere these days and they are offering up a whole new way to ride for everyone…just one problem.  You’ve never ridden at the cable before!  No worries – I’ve got you covered before you take your first laps.

That’s what I was thinking when our local park (Terminus Wake Park) opened up here in Georgia earlier this spring.  I’ve never ridden cable since the closest park was around 7 hours away.  It’s not too easy to make a day trip for that.

Boat riding has been my forte ever since I started wakeboarding.  In the back of my mind, I always wanted to see what it would take to emulate my favorite riders in all the free ride videos I would watch like 12 Honkies, Hype, Pointless, and several others I have stashed away in my collection where they were jibbing their faces off.

After my first visit to the park, I walked away with a quick “Top 5” list that all newbies to the cable should know before you get started.  Here’s what you need to know:

 

1)     The Proper Gear:

If you’re a wakeboarder, you’ll need a wakeboard setup with a “sintered” or “grind” base on the board.  If you’re a wakeskater, same deal – you’ll need a wakeskate with a “sintered” or “grind” base, as well.  Grind bases are made of a highly resilient material and are designed to take the beating that a cable park gives our boards.

Oh, yeah, take off any removable fins on your board, too.  Parks require this before they let you hit the water.

Check out the base of my “grind” board below:

LF PEAK BASE

Click HERE to see more cable park boards.

Your choice of bindings need to be taken into consideration, as well.  Here’s why:

I personally ride a set of 2012 Ronix Cell Boots (now known as the Ronix Code 55 bindings) where the boot is mounted directly to the board.  After I take a spill, I have to pull my feet out of the bindings, swim to the shore, and walk barefoot back to the starting dock.  If you aren’t into walking around barefoot like me, take a look at what Hyperlite or Slingshot has to offer!

Hyperlite has the System Boot and Binding setup where the boot and binding are actually two separate components – much like a snowboard boot and binding.  You tighten down the straps to ride and release them to walk around like you’re wearing a normal pair of shoes.

Slingshot offers something similar to my boots, but feature a removable liner in their high-end boots (like the Shredtown Boot).  Loosen up the outer laces and you can pull your foot out with the liner still on your foot to walk around in.

SHREDTOWN BOOT LINER

Any boot will do, to be honest, but having a boot or a liner to walk around in if the shore is rocky is an incredibly convenient feature.

Next you will need a helmet, something that will protect your dome while you get your shred on.  This one is not optional; you’ve got to have one to ride.  There are several companies that offer quality water helmets like Pro-tec, Shred Ready, Sandbox, and Bern.  Just make sure you get your own or rent one at the park when you get there if you’re ballin’ on a budget.

Finally, you’ll need a life vest.  Many cable parks require that you wear a U.S. Coast Guard Approved vest and do not allow competition-style non-Coast Guard approved vests.  I strongly recommend checking the rules of the park before you head out.  Better to be prepared than disappointed.  Here is a good example of a USCGA Life Vest from Hyperlite to give an idea of what you’ll need.

If you don’t have a board, helmet, or a vest…don’t worry!  Most parks have a grip of rental products you can try out before picking up your own gear.  Once you’re hooked like I am, you’ll want to start piecing together your own proper setup and ditch those stinky rentals.

 

2)     The Starting Dock:

This is where it all really starts!  There are a couple of ways to get going once it’s your turn to get your feet wet.

The easiest way to start is to use the “slide in” method.  Essentially, you put your gear on and hop your way to the starting line.  Once your pulley comes around and the operator says “are you ready,” shift your weight back over your back foot and keep the handle tight to your back hip – then wait for the pulley to pull the slack out of the rope and slide you off the starting ramp.  Leaning back helps keep the nose of your board up so you don’t dive the board underwater.

If the “slide in” method isn’t for you, try sitting on the edge of the starting dock.  This is very similar to the position that you would start riding behind the boat in.  Keep your elbows and knees slightly bent and then lean back to help make sure you keep the toe side edge of your board up and out of the water.  Once the pulley gets you up to speed, point the nose of your board the direction you are riding and start having fun.

Now, here’s something to work up to: dock starting!  You begin in a standing position on the “slide in” ramp or on the edge of the dock.  Watch the pulley come around the starting dock and once the tension on the rope is taken out, hop up and into the water.  With a little bit of practice, this is probably the most fun to way to enter the water but work your way up to this.  Trust me.

Check out this guy’s epic dock start:

 

3)     Follow the Cable (Don’t Get Slung!)

Congrats!! You have successfully made it off the starting dock!

Start by carving around on all the straightaways and making your way to the buoy markers around each turn.

CABLE TURN

These buoys are to help you know where to be when you come to a corner in the cable park.  Depending on the angle of the corner, you’ll need to take a little precaution before you get into the turn…because I didn’t and I got SLUNG!

On a sharp corner in the park, it’s going to be best to make sure you look up and see the direction the cable is about to take you, and point your board that way as you enter the turn.  Otherwise…get ready to hold on because you’re about to go for a ride.

CABLE TURN

After a lap or two, it all becomes second nature and you will be navigating the corners like a champ.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you ever get too much slack in the line based on the path you took into a turn, it’s best to let go of the rope.  Otherwise, it’ll pull the handle out of your hands extremely hard once the slack tightens up, which is definitely something you’re going to want to avoid.

 

4)     Build Up to Larger Features: Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

Start small.  Work on the smaller features and then move up incrementally based on how comfortable you feel on each slider, rail, or kicker.

When you fall, just make sure to pop your head up and give a quick 360-degree survey for other riders headed in your direction and start paddling towards the shore.

Generally, just ride within your comfort zone and build up on everything you’re learning to get to that next feature.  Also, a HUGE benefit of riding at a cable park is that there are TONS of riders with all different types of riding styles and skill levels that you can learn from.

Being able to watch how someone hits a certain rail or sets up for a kicker is such a powerful thing.

Everyone I ran into at the park was out there to have fun and progress – so don’t be afraid to ask for help.  I did, and it totally paid off.  I’ve already got my eye on the next transfer rail at our park!

 

5)     Rinse ‘n’ Repeat: But Don’t Get Complacent

What I mean by “Rinse ‘n’ Repeat” is just get out there and ride!

The more time you spend at the cable park (or riding in general), the better you will become.  Our sport requires practice and repetition to get tricks locked down, but don’t get complacent!

Find your lines within the park, but don’t go out there and do the same tricks every single time.  Push yourself once you are ready to try a different press.  Hell, try it switch!

Always turn one part of the day at the park into what I like to call a “progression session.”  Expand your bag of tricks and make the most out of what the park has to offer you.

 

Well, there you have it!

There are my Top 5 Things a 1st Time Cable Rider needs to know before you head out there!  Most importantly, have fun!  Now that you’re ready to go, get your gear together and start hitting up a park near you!  Maybe even plan a road trip to visit some parks with your buddies.  Time to get to pressin’.

2014 Pro Wakeboard Tour Acworth Georgia

Summer for us is always kicked off with the first stop of the Pro Wakeboard Tour at Dallas Landing in Acworth, Georgia.   The Tour always brings out the best in Acworth every year.  It  introduces wakeboarding to people and families.  We have so many people stop by the Ambush and BuyWake.com tent asking our team about ways to get involved in wakeboarding.  The beach and shoreline is filled with all different kinds of people, whether it’s their 5th year in a row being out there to families stumbling across the contest by accident on a random Saturday.  Not only is there a great turn out on the beach, but the city of Acworth puts on an amazing block party in the heart of downtown every year.  They have so much going on into the night with live bands, food and booze stands along with all the restaurants putting on amazing specials.  Each year the city of Acworth throws down a solid job of hosting the first stop of the tour.

This year, unfortunately, the event started off a bit dicey with cool temperatures and scattered rain storms.  Eventually, the bad weather passed and the beach starting filling out with onlookers.  Thankfully, the sun came out so EJ could drive my promo partner, Jami and me out to the floatilla that forms just outside of the contest run area to check out the party.  Once we got out there, it was absolutely crazy!  We started throwing promo packs to all the people on the boats.  In return, they started launching jello shots and beers back at us.  We had BuyWake.com friend and photographer, Andrew Burn, out with us shooting video and snapping pictures.  When the camera was pointed at all the partiers, they went absolutely insane.  Whether it was them pouring liquor all over their faces, to chicks popping things out and dudes jumping after us off the boats, it was as awesome as it could get.

BuyWake.com team rider, Harley Clifford, killed it throughout the contest, but absolutely blew everyone away with his perfectly executed run in the finals against Rusty Malinoski, Tony Carroll, Tony Iacconi, Steel Lafferty, and Shota Tezuka.  Harley scored a 94.67 with Rusty on his heels with a 92.50.  Not only was Harley boosting massive airs with some of the most technical tricks but he was also flawlessly hitting the rails and locking into everything.  It always makes us proud at BuyWake.com to have our rider and friend sitting at the top of the podium.

Andrew Burn captured all of the madness out on the water in his video and I must say, it perfectly displays the pure awesomeness.  Check out the video and some pictures taken by our own Lane Jordan.

 

 

 

The Nautique Open Golf Tournament at Callaway Gardens | The 55th Masters

Titlest Pro V1 Nautique Ball

Nautique Golf Ball

Every year the global community of water sports athletes and fans travels to Pine Mountain, Georgia to Callaway Gardens for what many feel is the greatest water ski and wakeboard event of the year.   As a rider, getting invited to the Masters can be a career highlight.  If you win, you join the rarefied ranks of Masters champions.  What could be more fun, right?  In my opinion, the real battle at the Masters can be found on the golf courses of Callaway Gardens on the first day of the tournament.  That’s when the Nautique Open golf tournament is held.  While most look forward to the events on the water, as do I, the real fun is getting all your friends who are riders and industry heads out for a round of golf.

We all love this sport and want to see it grow in all aspects, but the thing is…we all really love golf, too.  I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I heard “This place is amazing” or “I would rather play golf for a living.”  This year’s Nautique Open was held on one of two courses on the property – Mountain View Course.  Mountain View, a 12-time host to the PGA Tour’s Buick Challenge, is an exacting test of golf that stretches up to 7,057 yards.  This challenging, but playable layout will test your strategic and shot-making abilities, just as it did for PGA Tour pros when it hosted the Buick Challenge from 1991 to 2002.  The list of winners is a who’s who of Tour stars, with champions including Davis Love III, David Duval, Steve Elkington, David Toms and Jonathan Byrd.

Par 3 197 yards

Closest to the Pin

My golf team consisted of BuyWake.com/Ambush Board Co. team rider Jeff Langley and his good friends, Scott and Hodges from Ten-80.  We felt good, we looked good.  We are Team Tito’s.  Out of the gate our first hole was the long drive hole and none other than Jeff Langley hit a bomb 307 yards, but would miss the top five long drives of the day by ten yards or so.  We got hot early as the dew helped slow the greens down and we couldn’t miss any putt inside 15ft.  The greatest part of the day was no matter the shot, good or bad, we were having a blast.  We always talk about coming back every year and how we can’t wait for this event.  It’s always an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones.   Our team ended the day with a 79 which we were proud of, but then quickly realized that first place was a 76.  The entire time we played we were playing for us.  Just a group of dudes out having fun at a golf tournament, had we known we were 3 shots off the lead toward the end we probably would have hustled to get some shots.

Every year we sponsor a hole through BuyWake.com and this year it was a 197 yard par 3.  The best part about a par 3 hole is it’s anyone’s game.  You can get a hero shot close to the hole or even go as far as to making a hole in one.  We were playing like a bunch of heroes and once again another round of golf passed us by without the elusive hole in one.

Beyond the Nautique Open, the beachfront on Robin Lake is the hot spot for the weekend and it’s where you can find families and friends soaking up the sun and enjoying the on-water events.   The real action on the beach can be found in the Ambush Board Co. tent where you can score some of the best deals in wake from Hyperlite and Ronix.  The Ambush crew has been going to the Masters for some 17 odd years and every year they kill it in sales on the beach.  So mark it down in your calendar for next year, as the 56th Masters will be bigger and better!  Below are some of the highlights of the golf tournament and the action on the beach, but if you want to see even more make sure to check out the #NautiqueMasters hash tag on Twitter and Instagram.

Huge congrats to BuyWake.com/Ambush Board Co. team rider Danny Hampson for winning his first Masters in Wakeskate!!!