Best Year Ever!
I know its probably a cliche to say "best year yet", but I can't help it because its true. Honestly, this event scares me. Its so hard to lock down the boats and there always seems to be an issue just before the date. A boat got sold, a dealer's insurance didn't work out, etc. This year we decided to try using the boats of wakesurf enthusiasts, specifically looking for Polar Bear alumni. How did it go? Well, this will be the way we do it from now on. It worked so well and I think this is what made this year the best ever. Each boat was dialed in and there were no issues with a dealer or manufacturer worried about weight or lacking in knowledge on how to properly weight the boat for this crowd. All 6 boats were great with different characteristics and different levels of great. They were also great on both sides. I drove around in the wake9 chase pontoon both days admiring the wakes and riders, so much fun.
We had boards from several companies that were shipped or driven to us from several manufacturers. Brigade, Doomswell, Evercarve, Idol, Shredstixx Custom and Soulcraft. I was really surprised that all of the companies did well. Not that I expected any to tank, but with so many newcomers to the wakesurf board market I wasn't sure how they would all do. There were people that had favorites from every company. There were definitely some that stood out more than others but I will leave that to when we compile all of the reviews from riders by next week. Suffice it to say, every one of these companies is worth a look when you are ready for a new wakesurf board. Each of these companies offer one or more custom boards that make the stuff from the big wakeboard manufacturers seem like ironing boards. Stay tuned for those board reviews. Thanks so much to the companies that were willing to send boards.
We had 30 riders from all over the country and a couple from Canada. Every year we seem to reach out a bit farther from Northern California. There is no skill level or knowledge level required for this event. You just have to either be obsessed with wakesurfing, or desire to gain the obsession. If you are not obsessed before you attend, you will be when you leave. We had couples, singles, old folks, teenagers, you name it. There was one 19 year old girl that loves to wakesurf and has watched lots of wake9 videos to help progress with the sport. She signed up on her own and drove 8 hours and didn't know a soul. She had a blast and has lots of new friends. There were several great stories like this one.
Half of the riders were goofy and half were regular. That was strange and has never happened before. We usually prepare for 15-20% of the riders being goofy. I can only guess that because wake9 has made "goofy equality" such an important issue, that we have attracted many mixed families and couples. They came to the right event.
, on Flickr
I think more than half of us stayed on houseboats at the north end of our beautiful home lake, Lake Oroville in Northern California. The Harringtons really pushed me to get as many people into houseboats this year, and since Lake Oroville Marina was a sponsor and made it SUPER attractive, we went for it. That idea was a winner. I hope next year everyone can stay in the houseboats. There was night surfing, dinner together and just tons of fun on the lake chatting until all hours of the night about our favorite water sport. RJ really took advantage of the situation. His mom had to stay home to bring lunch in both days so we had to fend for ourselves with food like hot dogs and sandwiches to eat for dinner. RJ would eat our food and then go to each houseboat and look for the best cook and ask if they had something good to eat. He went from houseboat to houseboat getting fed. He loved every minute of it.
The weather was great for October with mostly calm glass and a bit of wind in the afternoon. It was sunny and in the 70s and the water was about 65 degrees. Most people wore some type of wetsuit but we were all really impressed by Jamie from Canada. She wore a bikini both days and acted like she was in the tropics. Did I mention she was from Canada?
, on Flickr
, on Flickr
, on Flickr
The riders were separated into 6 groups of 4 or 5, one group for each boat. We did our best to group riders based on their size and skill. We took the 3 dozen boards and spread them across each boat, about 6 per boat. There were 2 75 minute surf sessions on Saturday morning, then lunch, then 2 more 75 minute sessions. There were 2 more 75 minute sessions on Sunday, lunch, then clean up. Each boat received a notebook for notes and comments about boards and boats and a stopwatch so that each rider got the same time riding, about 15-20 minutes a session. That may not sound like a lot, but do that 6 times over 2 days and even the most fit riders got jelly legged. Its a lot of surfing.
Each rider found a new quiver of boards on each boat and was encouraged to ride as many boards as possible and just enjoy the time. Some riders rode over 30 boards over the two days! Riders helped each other out, taught new tricks to each other, and just became like extended family. Imagine spending 6 hours in a boat over 2 days with a small group of 4-5 people. Life long friends are made at this event. Between each session we took 15 minutes to switch riders from boat to boat and some boats would switch from side to side within that time. Every boat had no problem making the switch in that time.
We placed GoPro Hero 3 cameras on 3 boats at a time to cover all boats and then I roamed the entire area trying to visit each boat during each session taking pictures and video with my Canon 60D.
The Boats and Drivers
OK, some of you have just skipped down to this part haven't you? Three of the drivers were polar bear alumni that came to the event in previous years without a boat or with a "not so great" wakesurf boat and have since gone out and traded up. They were here to pay forward and share, and I think also wanted to show off a bit. We didn't have set rules for weighting but encouraged the drivers/owners to weight their boats using a "weekend warrior" setup. More than stock, big, fun, but hopefully sane. Each driver was reimbursed for their gas and given a check to get their boats detailed after the event.