I’ve never been to Arkansas before, but when I heard that the 2011 Brostock festival and double up competition was going to be taking place at Bull Shoals Lake for the second year in a row, I booked a ticket for adventure in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Between the ticks, chiggers, snakes, poison ivy and poison oak, I knew I was in for an interesting week!
It all started the day before Brostock was to kick off when an innocent trip to town – the Walmart in Flippin, Arkansas – turned into a late night GPS nightmare that had us lost on a dirt road in the mountains of Arkansas enduring the limited visibility of the pitch black woods wondering if which we would run out of first, road or gas. It was only a half hour earlier that I was suggesting to my brother that perhaps he was overdoing it with his purchase of 200 rounds of ammo for his Glock. Now I was thanking him because the gun on board was only thing that was making me feel somewhat safe. Luckily, we eventually made our way to our destination for the night without becoming the plot to a cheesy horror movie.
Brostock kicked off the next day, Friday, with people filling local hotels, hauling gear onto houseboats, launching inboards and getting ready for the action. It was really cool to roll through the small town of Bull Shoals and see the janky signs out in front of every business welcoming “Brostockers” to town. The people I met throughout seemed really excited to have so many people in town for Brostock. I didn’t run into one person that wasn’t super nice and accommodating. Even at the gas station a local struck up a conversation and asked us if we were in town for Brostock. He, as well as the rest of the town, was clearly excited and looking forward to the weekend. I was too.
Friday night got the Brostock festivities started with a method contest. It was a warm-up to the double-up contest that would take place the next day with 20 of the world’s top riders. It wasn’t a shock to anybody to see Ben Greenwood pull the most stylish method grab out of his back pocket. Ben set himself up for a nice weekend before he and the rest of the Brostock crowd moved the party to the 178 Club out on Highway 178, of all places.
Saturday started early in the world of pro wakeboarders. The double-up comp was supposed to get rolling at 10:00, so I was at the dock at 9:00 looking to hitch a ride out to the event. OnlyInboards.com’s Ian Brown rolled up in his new and very sharp-looking black and blue MB and was kind enough to not only ferry me out to the event, but also host me on their houseboat with a generous flow of food, drink and great company throughout the day. Much thanks to Ian and his very cool crew for taking care of me.
Not long after I arrived, Harley Clifford made an appearance behind the Liquid Force Supra and started warming up the crowd as the tow boat dialed in the course. The contest consisted of five heats of four riders with the top two in each heat moving on to the finals. The finalists were Shawn Watson, Daniel Powers, Steel Lafferty, Rusty Malinoski, Bob Soven, Harley Clifford, Chris O’Shea, Phillip Soven, Adam Fields and Danny Harf, last year’s winner.
Each rider got three double ups: one left, one right and one of his choice. The best trick in each round was scored, but the rider was not allowed to repeat that trick in the finals. The conditions weren’t ideal for the finals with some wind and chop, so I wasn’t surprised at how many crashes we saw. It was also an indication of how hard these guys were trying to throw down their money tricks. We saw some good hits and some outstanding bails. In the end, Steel Lafferty grabbed third place with his toeside backside 7, Danny Harf slid into second with his melon-grabbed toeside backside 7 and Adam Fields, last year’s runner-up, took home the $13,000 grand prize with an absolutely huge slim chance 5 with a nose grab. Take a look at all three in the video below.
It was a long day of double-ups and the party coming from the line-up of boats and “Brostockers” kept the day even more entertaining. The band that setup on the houseboat next to ours brought the funky beats and the crazy girls and guys floating by on tubes, paddle boards, jet skis, pontoons and anything else that floats kept us in people-watching mode all day long. The thousands of spectators that made it out to watch had the riders pumped up and made it another great festival that’s a favorite for both the riders and the fans!
Sunday had everybody clearing out of Bull Shoals with some memories and perhaps a Brostock keychain, tank top, brostache or other promotional freebie. Since my flight didn’t head out until Monday, we headed out to the lake for one more round of riding. A return trip to the Flippin Walmart educated us on the law in that area that prohibits sales of beer and other alcohol on Sundays. Although we were stunned, the shock wore off quickly when we spotted the fireworks stand in the parking lot and hastily blew our drink money on bottle rockets and other things that go boom.
With our explosive devices and sodas in hand, we headed back out to Bull Shoals, pulled the boat off the lift and headed out to some glassy conditions. We weren’t two minutes into the first ride when somebody yelled “SNAKE!!” and all hell broke loose. Apparently a four-foot snake had somehow made its way onto the boat and didn’t take too kindly to the disturbance of the engine, so he decided to show himself. I knew that I would need a change of underwear when I turned around to see this giant serpent heading my way via the side pocket of the boat’s interior.
I had heard the stories of copperheads and water moccasins that will sometimes appear in this area, but being form So Cal, I had no idea what these poisonous snakes looked like. Since I had never seen this shiny black variety before, I made the assumption that it was poisonous and bolted out of the driver seat and up onto the closed bow of the boat. The snake made its way under the dash, so, with the other passengers standing on the back of the boat, I idled our vessel back to the dock from the safety of the bow by reaching over the windshield to steer. I can’t say I’ve ever driven a boat from the bow, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
The snake, which we later determined to be a harmless Black snake, had hidden itself somewhere under the dash, so we figured our day was done. However, after spending the next hour carefully taking apart whatever panels we could under the dash, I hit the Daily Double and found myself face to face with my slippery friend once again. For the second time that day, my reactions took over and I jumped to the opposite side of the boat faster than I thought possible. The good news is that we were able to get the snake out and it didn’t make a permanent home in the bow of my brother-in-law’s boat. We were even able to get back out for a great day on the water and a great night of fireworks and hanging out with friends and family.
I’ve got to hand it to Arkansas. It definitely provided me with plenty of fun, great weather, beautiful sunsets, action, riding and stories all packed into less than a week!