2013 Surf Expo
I always loves me a visit to Orlando. Being from the San Diego area, where wakeboarding is close to non-existent, it's nice to get immersed in wakeboarding up to your eyeballs for at least one week out of the year. The main reason for our jaunt east was, of course, Surf Expo, but we got in plenty of other activities while we were there.
We managed to get out on a few lakes (Holden, Minnehaha and Minneola), film a few riders (Adam Fields, Amber Wing, Bob Sichel, Dallas Friday, Tony Iaconni, Gunnar Shuler, Bec Gange and Robby Holihan), take a few spins around the cable at Orlando Watersports Complex, crash a Liquid Force dinner and "trick" them into paying for our food and drinks (for the second year in a row), hand out some Riders Choice awards, watch the first NFL game of the season, hit a few industry parties and experience what rain feels like (on the daily).
Then there's the "work" portion of the trip; Surf Expo. Don't let the name fool you because there's more non-surf companies in that building than surf brands. I think they should re-name it Board Expo or something more inclusive, but it seems like Surf Expo is becoming less and less applicable as new sports are added. This year alone had stand up paddle board companies blowing up like nothing I've ever seen. Whatever you call it, it's the main show for the wakeboarding industry and all the big names in wake show up to show off their newest wares.
So there we are in the Orlando Convention Center looking to get blown away by all the new stuff. Right off the bat I was impressed with the relative size of the wake section on the Expo floor. It appeared to be larger than it's been in years, which is always a good sign for the health of our industry. The boat companies, in particular, seemed to really take up some real estate this year. Even some of the brands and you wouldn't expect were making a showing.
I was super impressed with all the board graphics from last year, so I wasn't expecting the industry to hold that standard up for two years in a row. The overall look was a little bit down this year, but there were still plenty of great looking rides to choose from. I think this is the year that we can say day-glo has made its official comeback. Since we take lots of photos of riders on these boards and day-glo really pops in the pictures, I'm all for that comeback.
The other board layout that I'm a fan of is the flex-type boards with wood showing through on the surface. Liquid Force has done this with great success with the Shane boards and now they've got it on the Raph, Bob and Peak. Jobe did a great job with the Liberty and Julian Cohen pro model. CWB Board Co. has the appropriately named Woodro sporting the same look. O'Brien shows its wood with the Baker and the Spark. Finally, the El Von Videl Shnook holds down the exposed wood look for Ronix. Slingshot takes a bit of a different approach with several of their models having a full, but slightly transparent, graphic over the wood, so you get full graphic coverage of the board, but you still get to see the wood grain behind it.
CWB Board Co. caught my attention with their new 'Merica board. It's not day-glo or showing wood, but it's definitely one of the best looking boards I saw. It's a darkened red, white and blue that was simple and chill, but also patriotic. The real kicker on this board is that they are all handmade, so you're going to see it retailing for a cool $1,000!
The buzz word over at the Ronix tent was camber. They've got a couple of boards, Parks and Bandwagon, which are featuring a new bottom shape that has camber. It's kind of hard to describe, but it's kind of like the middle section of the three-stage rocker has a slight continuous reverse rocker. Confused? Me too. It will be interesting to hear how they perform once people get them out on the water and start talking about them on the WakeWorld forums.
A board company that we haven't seen before, Humanoid, had a great setup that was super busy the entire weekend. Two boat companies that I've either never seen or haven't see in years were Sanger and Supreme. It's always good to have some new blood at the show.
Like I mentioned before, the boat companies were out in full force with new models galore. Malibu debuted their new Wakesetter 23 LSV, which you'll be hearing a lot more about once we take delivery on the WakeWorld version next month. :) Their sister company, Axis, showed off their new A24. Both the Malibu and Axis models featured Surf Gate. The only G Nautique was displaying was their little remote controlled versions, but they did have the new Super Air 210 and Super Air 230 in the house. I believe Centurion had the biggest piece of wake real estate in the building showing off several boats, including their new FX44 and a really interesting center-console wakesurfing boat.
Supra and Moomba shared the Skier's Choice floor space with the new Moomba Mondo and the Supra SC. MasterCraft had their new X46 on the floor next to a Red Bull edition XStar. Tige was showing off their Z3, which I can attest to being a fantastic boat from my personal experience over the last couple of years. Sanger showed off their 215 Surf Series and Supreme gave us a look at their V226 with the widest bow I've ever seen.
But enough of my words, you probably want to see the photos! There are over 400 pics from Surf Expo below, but to make them a little easier to view I've broken them up into categories. Have at it!