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Old     (eternalshadow)      Join Date: Nov 2001       07-24-2017, 9:43 AM Reply   
I've been involved with varying degrees of organizing grassroots competitions for 12 years. As I was getting involved wakeboard was well into a shift of less contest riders. I spent 4-5 years prior to getting involved in organizing attending a few contests where there would be 80-100 grassroots riders that would show up.

One could describe our local timeline that I've been involved as:

2001-2005 - contests could attract 80-100 riders (don't know the average)
2006-2012 - contests could attract 50-60 riders (average being 30)
2012-2016 - contests could attract 40-50 riders (average being 20-25)
2017 - our biggest contest featured 21 wakeboarders (average being 10)

Canadian Nationals participation has also been on a decline in wakeboard boat from highs of 120-140 riders to lows of 60 (from 2006-2016) but numbers do fluctuate depending on the year and location of nationals.

Our Alberta Tour started as a Wakeboard tour and has evolved with changing demographics. It's a tough balance because adding different disciplines does alienate some people and they leave as a result but as an event organizer we need a baseline participation number to continue to provide the event.

We had an event for 4-5 years that included a recreational water ski contest in addition to wakeboard.

For the last 5 years we have included hydrofoil, we get 5-10 hydrofoilers but their participation has waned this year.

2015 - we added wakesurf at 1 of 5 events and had 8-10 surfers show up with half being crossover wakeboarders.
2016 we had wakesurf at 3 of 5 events and had 15-20 wakesurfers show up with half being crossover athletes.
2017 we had wakesurf at 4 of 4 events and had 30-40 wakesurfers with about 25% being crossover from wakeboard to surf or surf to wakeboard

(crossover being athletes that competed in both wakeboard and wakesurf).

With all of that I'm wondering how your local contests are doing and what changes they've made to remain viable events?
Old     (boardjnky4)      Join Date: Dec 2011       07-24-2017, 10:55 AM Reply   
We've got a pretty lively wakeboard scene here in the NC area. I organize an on-water best trick contest and hangout every year called CoveFest... Last year I think we had around 30 riders and a whole mess of boats coming in and out throughout the day.

It's a really good time and it's pretty successful by my measure, but I do think we ought to be able to do better.
Old     (Lemonade)      Join Date: May 2015       07-24-2017, 12:36 PM Reply   
Eternalshadow, I've been mulling the idea of hosting trying to organize a grassroots event in northern ab as well. I'd like some input/feedback if you have time. DM me your email if you think you can provide some guidance.
Old     (ryan_shima1)      Join Date: Sep 2002 Location: Layton, Utah       07-24-2017, 3:45 PM Reply   
Hey Jeff,

Here in Utah, we've had at least 1 big wakeboard contest during the summer months for the past 15 years + 1 up in Burley, Idaho (19 years) which are well attended. Recently, there have been wake surf events being organized but I'm not involved in that, just strictly wakeboarding. However, back in the day, we would have 50-70 riders per contest, but about 10 years ago, we switched to having a entry cap of 50 riders per event for the Organizers sake. Now some years, we've had less participation, like 30-40 riders, but that still puts out for a good tournament. Most of the time, we reach max capacity though. IMO, having 40-50 riders for a 1 day event is a good sign that wakeboarding is still healthy in your area.

Some of the things we've seen here in our area that affect participation numbers are:
1. Riders get older, start families & getting on the water isn't a priority anymore until their children get old enough to want to try wake sports.

2. Water conditions: some riders aren't wanting to pay entry fee's to compete in a big open lake where the water gets beat by day users. (Some times though, we get lucky and are able to close off area's to the public during our competition hours).

3. Ability based divisions: We've used the old HyperTour format (ability based divisions) since it was created in the mid-late 90's, but we found that it was allowing riders to sandbag & compete in divisions that were beneath their current level, and thus competing riders would feel cheated when that happened. So this season, we went in the direction of the WWA where all the divisions are based on ages, and there were no trick restrictions. This allowed every rider to compete at their best ability amongst their fellow peers. This has been a huge success so far!

I've been the chief judge for our local events in this area since 2003, and I always encourage riders/parents to compete because in the end, it's really not about the competition, but about connecting with new people in your area at these events, making friends and supporting your local wake community. In many cases, it gives people who don't have regular access to boats, thus water time, a chance to hook up with those who do and progress their own riding.
Old     (simplej)      Join Date: Sep 2011       07-24-2017, 4:49 PM Reply   
Shut down here.

No INT. One contest where participation is slim at best. Some divisions have only 3/4 riders. Wakesurf is of course more popular...
Old     (eternalshadow)      Join Date: Nov 2001       07-24-2017, 5:43 PM Reply   
Our contests use a blend of age and ability and we've done a pretty good job over the years of not allowing members to sand bag. We've tried to explain the fundamentals of judging and approach certain individuals afterwards if they rode well but not to contest format (i.e. I beat one rider with two inverts and a spin and 180's and grabs but they threw 3 inverts and then repeated it 3 times and didn't have a ts 2 wake jump). The biggest thing I've heard over the years is "why am I going to give up a whole day/weekend on the lake to ride down and back?" and "I didn't know there were wakeboard contests". I agree that it's not about the competition as much as it's about the community. We have a PA, pump music and have announcing for the crowd. We'll do fun contests with the kids such as a dance off or race. Hang banners, have an association tent, have flags, the events look pretty awesome when you roll in.

We've also been adding/switching up some venues to try out new locations and access new communities, some have been successful and some have not. We also look for opportunities to partner with other events and the communities/clubs we host in/with. We're a self contained tour, we roll up with the boats, officials, volunteers, and for the most part we've been successful at having large amounts of prizes all for a cost of $20-30 (plus an association family membership of $40). Sponsorship isn't as easy to come by these days.

Since we're a non-profit association that's doing alright for funding we've had the luxury of running a net loss (we spend approximately 4 k more than we take in), we designed a custom medal with a 3 yr lifespan, next year we're up for a new design. This year we awarded a series champion for each division, we've had the benefit of having one sponsor do an MVP package for someone that stands out throughout the day (sportsman ship, new trick, helping out, a little bit of everything etc). Our provincial event this year was partnered with the CWSA and we split wakeboarding/wakeskating and wakesurfing to two sides of the same lake. This was our biggest event with approximately 55 riders. We had bibs for all competitors, a broadcast trailer to stream surfing to shore, a G23 for surfing and a GS22 for wakeboarding (usually it was two G23's but the side of lake we were on was too shallow for a G23).

We advertise on social media, facebook, Instagram, association website and hang posters at various locations (public and with our partners). I know there's still room to improve but with limited staff and volunteer resources it's been tough. I know after this many years and contests (approximately 48) not to mention attending some national events and other clinics that I'm definitely getting tired. With participation numbers what they were I'm seriously considering reducing the number of events that we do wakeboard at and going back to offering more clinics (we've had a significant decline in public clinics).
Old     (gnarslayer)      Join Date: Sep 2008       07-24-2017, 7:48 PM Reply   
The boat contests here in Texas are almost non existent

Wake the Desert is still running in san angelo which had an estimate of probably 30 wakeboarders total and alot more wakesurfers.

Also theres a few Collegiate contests that are pretty popular cause all the college kids can go party.

But boat wakeboarding has gone downhill and cable boarding is the direction wakeboarding is going. Wakesurfing has done the takeover on the boat and thats how its going to be in my opinion.

each cable here in texas has a weekly points chase contest from beginner to pro level. and we have around 10 full size cables
Next level ride has the annual fright jam
Quest has the annual popsicle jam
tsr has the annual cablestock
points chase nationals will be at bsr this weekend

and theres a few more.

Cable grassroots is doing very well around here, but boat has faded massively

If I go ride on lake austin these days, I could be out for a few hours and not see a single wakeboarder, but surfers are everywhere.
Old     (Lwaynebowen)      Join Date: Feb 2017       07-25-2017, 6:22 AM Reply   
The hardest things is finding the tournaments, not much info on where or when, we just got in on the INT and finally by word of mouth heard about this league. Not to many there but it just started back up in June. Great people who are like us, just want to have fun, and get more people involved
Old     (BOOMSMACK)      Join Date: Apr 2017       07-25-2017, 7:39 AM Reply   
Here in Oklahoma there are no more wakeboard or even surf contests. They used to do INT tornaments but only like 5 wakeboarders and maybe 10 surfers would show up on a big one. No suprised they ended them. It's a shame because they could have had a lot more riders but they did zero promotion. Maybe a facebook page but often times not even that. Mostly just word of mouth.
Old     (jarrod)      Join Date: May 2003       07-25-2017, 10:18 AM Reply   
As some of you know, myself and some friends ran the CIE SpringRide event. It was always a battle. We never had problems with riders, but we had good size prizes and it was pro-only. It was still considered a grassroots event because we invited local outlaw and semi pro riders to join, and the whole purpose was to get the local scene engaged with the pros by making them accessible.

A couple of things happened. Sponsors started to care less about just supporting / fueling the scene in their territories and more concerned about what the event was doing for them personally. Less families started coming out as the spectator aspect became less important and more partiers started coming out which created more noise, trouble, destruction of property, and because they aren't shopping the vendors, this leads back to my first point. We let the event die when it was going to cost us personal money to keep it alive.

INT and WWA events all died. As mentioned above, there are less new wakeboarders coming into the scene which means families stopped attending and rider participation was down. They became sad looking events. Everyone now is interested in Surfing, but of course, no one wants to watch that ****. So the only contests we have now is a Surfering contest where only riders show up and NO spectators for obvious reasons.

Cable events are still alive.

The only events that do well in Cali are the Pro Tour events. They still draw 500-1000 people.
Old     (corerider)      Join Date: May 2008       07-25-2017, 11:55 AM Reply   
I have been helping run an event in North Alabama called Spring2Summer with a few other friends under the WakeFactory name... This was our 10th year with it and we ran a similar contest for a few years before that. We also help a local dealer run their event WakeBattle, which had it's 4th annual event this year. I have noticed the overall numbers dwindle from year to year and this was our lowest overall turnout 35-40 I think, but I blame it on bad weather forecasts for keeping people from making the trip. Last season we had our best "new-comer" turnout with many new young riders. We have always used the WWA format of age range and rider proficiency and it seems to work well. An INT league has also been formed again in the state allowing more young riders to get into contest riding which has bled over to our contests as well. We have a fairly strong rider community along with good boat dealers and proshops which keep wakeboarding alive.

This coming weekend is Wakefest on Center Hill Lake in TN... It has the largest spectator turnout for a grassroots contest I've ever been too. I think last year was an estimated 600-650 boats on the 2 boatlines that formed. While their overall rider turnout is usually about the same as our contests (40-60) they do bring in more pro riders simply because of payout...

Pro Women Riders
1st $3,000
2nd $2,500
3rd $2,000
4th $1,000

Pro Men Division
1st $7,500
2nd $4,000
3rd $2,000
4th $1,500
5th $1,000
6th $500

That's HUGE money for a grassroot event IMHO, but they have big sponsor pockets coming from Nashville, TN which make this happen. This event is now held in a region of TN allowing for only water access to the event and virtually no lodging past primitive or RV camping, and very small handful of cabins, or if you're lucky an Airbnb spot... I don't really understand where so many people stay, but the event is huge! I will be at Wakefest this weekend hoping to bring home some prizes in case anyone here is attending.

I guess I'm saying all this to make my point of many factors fall into play here... Money or prizes seem to be the driving factor now days but creating a good, fun, family atmosphere with preferably great water conditions and place to view for everyone has been our secret to keeping our community alive.
Old     (cedarcreek216V)      Join Date: Aug 2011       08-07-2017, 12:52 PM Reply   
We looked for an event to travel to this summer for our daughter and finding info on any event, regardless of where, proved very difficult. We went to Wake the Desert and it was awesome and are planning on going to Wakefest next year as well as Wake the Desert.

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