An era of the sport of wake boarding as we have known it has ended. After 25 years the professional wakeboard tour has officially ended as Mastercraft boats has walked away from from being the tour title sponsor. I really miss those “hot summer nights” on ESPN for those of you who remember but I think this is pretty great decision that MC has made as I feel it’s time for some changes. Now, I will never forgot the incredible memories and great times that I have have had traveling around with friends on the tour for many years and I thank the pro tour for that as well as all of the promotion they have done for the sport.
On the current tour the crowds are small, many of the riders runs look identical and we have judges who would prefer not to “rock the boat” so the riding really lacks personality. The Pro Tour has without a doubt hosted some of the best riding in the world but, going big is not the forte at these events so it is boring unless you understand the nuances of super technical riding, which isn’t good for spectators in my opinion.
Expensive boats are one of the reasons people are saying that wake boarding has not seen growth. It is true that pricey boats have priced many people out of the new boat market but, people will always love boats, myself included. There are quite a few boats for the consumer that are priced really well at the moment so you can get big wakes and a great boat that doesn’t cost as much as a house.
The cable is currently the main area that wake boarding is seeing growth. Between no boat purchase, gas and insurance, more people are flocking to the cable to get their riding in. There are more cable events than ever and kids now are able to have a chance at a career through cable riding. I think this actually adds to the total number of people riding boat as it means a higher total number of riders but it doesn’t do anything for boat contests. My hopes is that we will see new boat events emerge with different formats now that the MC pro tour is over.
I am just stating a few opinions here as I woke up to this surprising news this morning and decided to rant a bit. I am sure boat riding will live on and contests will continue to be a part of our sport but, I really hope we get back to our roots and remember why wake boarding was new and exciting back in the day. It didn’t look like trick skiing! Yep, trick skiing.
1. Always pick up a fallen rider on the drivers side of the boat so that you can have a constant visual of the rider.
2. If your rope often tangles or wont wind up easily try dragging the rope backwards with the handle end in the boat while driving at riding speed for 2 minutes, this should unwind it.
3. When someone is getting into or out of the boat lower the stereo so that you can easily hear what is going on at the back of the boat. I have heard of a terrible accident happening because the driver couldn’t hear what the rider was saying over the stereo.
4. Shut the engine off whenever a rider is getting into or out of the water.
5. Make sure riders are wearing a decent life vest, especially kids. Many jackets these days are comfortable and stretchy but you need to make sure they float you well and won’t get pulled if you take a good crash. I recommend buckles and zippers, not pull tight stretchy bands that some manufacturers use to tighten vests.
6. Girls should wear two layers over their bottoms for protection when wakeboarding. Boardshorts over bikini bottoms works well or you could always go with bikini bottoms over board shorts if that does it for you.
7. Using helmets for really little kids usually under 10 is a great idea. Small kids are super flexible so the board can hit them in the back of the head if they take a hard fall, plus the board length to height ratio is greater with little ones making it easier for their head to come into contact with the board.
8. When taking your wakeboard boat out of the water the ideal depth for your trailer is putting the wheelwell steps just an inch under the water. This will insure your boat rests perfectly evenly and wont be shifted to one side of the trailer.
9. No power turns if you want to keep your line calm. A power turn is when you turn around and do a big high speed circle to get back to your rider, it wrecks the lake and wastes gas. When someone falls just slowly pull off of the throttle, turn around in gear and idle back to the rider. Approach a rider slowly and take the wind into consideration as well.
10. Be a great riding partner or guest. Bring gas even if the boat owner says we’re good.” Help prepare or put away the boat and wipe that bad boy down as boats are a lot of work and people take pride in their whips.
How much time should a rider spend on their wakeboard riding and training each week?
I recently had a couple of students tell me that their wakeboard coach had them riding around three or four 25 minute sets each day, five or six days per week. My first question was if they were paying by the set. I guessed the coach was pounding them to ride that much so that he could maximize his profits with disregard for this students safety.
The only way someone should ever ride three sets in a day is if the sets are 10-15 minutes long. One or two 20-25 sets each day are really plenty for practicing moves on the water.
Here is an example of what a weekly riding schedule should look like that I would recommend.
Monday. Light work out or bike ride. Wakeboard set 20-25 minutes. Light trampoline training. Afternoon wakeboard session. Tuesday, the same schedule but possibly walking some tricks on land if needed.
Wednesday. One set on wednesday. Make one of the weekdays a light day. Ride one set or two really short sets.
Thursday and Friday would be the same program as Monday unless your feeling worn out, pace yourself. Use the weekends to do other fun stuff to break up your weekly routine and keep you feeling mentally fresh.
Be sure to warm up before each set. It is better to stretch after.
Wakeboarding is an impact sport. Your joints and connective muscles need rest or you will get hurt.
Be really careful if you have a wakeboard coach pushing you to ride more than what I’ve recommended here.
I just got back home from my first Pro Tour stop in 9 years. After being gone from competitive wake boarding for nearly a decade I am happy to say we had an awesome experience. I entered the event with no expectations whatsoever and found myself enjoying the event more than I had ever remembered.
I was there to stand up my passes behind the Mastercraft X-Star and see where that would put me. My only goal was to make it into the top ten at the end of the event.
Having my son with me on the dock and seeing him excited was such a priceless gift that I can’t even put into words how amazing it was. All of the people there were showing me and my son all of the right reasons to come and share the stoke of the Pro Wakeboard tour.
Danno the mano was excellent on the mic, Brannon Thomas spinning records, Travis Moye driving, the judges, and all of the people involved in the production of the event were top notch and my hat goes off to you. Let’s not forget Buckman Ferguson!
Thank you Pro Tour!
And yes, I did make it into the top ten as a 40 year old wakeboarder!!!
I just entered my first wakeboard contest after being away from the scene for roughly eight years. I had an incredibly good time riding and enjoyed the excitement of the event. I couldn’t help but be impressed with some of the riders passes, things have come a long way in regards to style and better looking runs. I would have liked to have ridden better but that didn’t sway my emotions as much as I thought it would as the buzz around the event was more about family for me, meaning that these close friends and wake boarders treated me like “family”.
People had walked up to me and told that my riding and career had inspired them to ride or to compete. I was really feeling that I had accomplished something really important at that moment. These strangers were just people “sharing the love” and I felt such gratitude to be a part of this sport and these connections to everyone were way more important than whatever could have happened during my passes.
I would like to thank everyone who has inspired me whether at the event or not, you have made a huge impact on me and I feel blessed to be a part of this family sport.
After roughly 20 years of competitive wake boarding I put together a few suggestions on how to make your wake boarding contest experience better.
1. Be prepared with the runs you’d like to do at least two weeks before the event.
2. Put together practical and realistic goals for the event.
3. Use tricks that you make at least 4 out of 5 attempts. It’s ok to have a trick that you make 3 out of 5 attempts if you feel like you really need it to get through a round or feel like that move has been going well.
4. Try to ride at the event location using the event boat before the contest.
5. As a rule I don’t hang out all day long at events that I compete in. Find out what time you ride and go find something to else to do for a little while. Hang out after you ride! Watching a ton of riding before you ride can get your mind going and get you off task. Keep the plan that you had two weeks ago!
6. If the conditions are totally different that what you have been practicing with, have a more basic back up run in place to do instead. Train for the event with a “B” run option.
7. Stay hydrated and eat what you normally eat for breakfast. Try to keep your contest day routine as close to your normal home routine as closely as possible.
8. When you get to the event and have not ridden there before, take a good look at where the boat turns around and which line the boat takes. Ask questions about “where are the starting bouys” are and “how is the boat weighted”.
9. If your ride well, smile. If you ride terribly, smile.
10. This is wakeboarding, don’t take it too seriously! Whether its the “World Championships” or a backyard local event just remember to enjoy yourself and have fun!
The starting dock. Bill Porter, Darin Shapiro, Kien Shapiro and Shaun Murray
Wakeboardingis will be a journey through a history of wakeboarding, wake surfing, and surfing through my eyes and how I have enjoyed some really fantastic moments on a board. I got started in these sports when I was around 10 years old and have been fortunate enough to witness and be a part of the amazing progression that has taken place over the last 30 years or so. I would like to say thank you to everyone that I have had an opportunity to share it with. Please tune in weekly as I will be blogging and adding pics when I can!!!