We couldn’t have asked for anything better. The sun was shining bright and warm, the wind was barely a whisper and the calm waters of Southern California’s Vail Lake were begging us to come out and do some wakesurfing for Malibu’s Surf Gate First Hand event. Unfortunately, that description only applies to the days before and after the event. The day of the event the weather consisted of clouds, wind and the occasional rain flurry. I assume Malibu ordered up the foul weather so that they could really test the mettle of the participants and separate the men from the boys (and women from the girls)!
Surf Gate First Hand was a two-day invitation-only event that provided 30 or so industry veterans with the opportunity to get a look at Malibu’s latest invention, Surf Gate, up close and personal. In return, Malibu had an opportunity to get feedback from said veterans on the performance of Surf Gate as well as several other wakesurfing-related topics.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past year, you know that Malibu’s Surf Gate is a set of electronically controlled “gates” affixed to the rear of the hull on either side of the swim step. By deploying one of these gates, Malibu is able to create a monster sized wakesurf wake on the opposite side of the boat without adding a monster sized amount of weight to one side of the boat or the other. The true beauty of Surf Gate is that you can switch your wakesurf wake from one side of the boat to the other in just a few seconds with a touch on the Malibu Touch Command screen.
The introduction of Surf Gate has created a whole new category of wakesurf tricks, called transfers. A transfer is when you surf from one side of the wake to the other and time it to match the driver’s switch of the wake from one side to the other. If the timing between rider and driver is right, it’s a smooth transfer that’s begging for the rider to throw in a 180, 360, superman or whatever else they can think of. Although I didn’t drop anything like that into my transfer, I’m proud to say that I did my first successful transfer at the Surf Gate First Hand event.
The folks who really stepped it up in the transfer department were the pro riders and a few of the non-pros that were in attendance. As you can see in the pictures below, there were some creative ways to get from one side to the other and all the riders were pushing each other to see who could come up with the best move. In fact, Malibu offered up $1,000 to the best transfer. Brian Grubb, Jimmy Redmond, Johnny Stieg and Josh Sleigh were the four riders that ended up battling for the cash in the finals. Neither of them would take the easy road and they all pushed each other until Josh Sleigh came out on top.
Others that left Vail Lake a littler richer were Chad Borba (Edco Marine) with $250 for Best Crash, Sean Mattison (creator of the Nubster surf fin) with $250 for Most Improved and Tim Walters (Liquid Force) with $750 for being the biggest goofball of the day (MVP) and proving to everybody that you can wakesurf (and transfer) on a wakeboard. I personally walked away with a belly full of Baja Fresh and several new friends!
Day two of Surf Gate First Hand was spent in the basement of a winery (seriously) going over our experiences and providing feedback and ideas for the future of wakesurfing products and competitions. I’ve been in the business since 1998 and I think this is the first time a company has solicited my feedback on anything, so it was a lot of fun. Even cooler was hearing all the other ideas that were passed around and the way that everybody was feeding off of each other to come up with even more good input. Surf Gate First Hand was one of the most interesting events of which I’ve ever been a part and a huge thanks goes out to Malibu for including WakeWorld!