Friday marked the event’s kickoff and featured junior and amateur events for males and females, bringing plenty of spectators to the windy shore. The MyWake Global Challenge, a second-year event dreamed up by Tigé Boats, challenges riders in wakesurfing, wakeskating and wakeboarding to compete throughout the summer (June, July, August), using videos of their runs posted online. Each month winners were picked from the various age divisions to represent the sport at the Main Event in Sparks.
“(Competitors) have a vibrancy this morning because the water and air temperature is a little chilly,” joked Chris Bischoff, director of operations for event producer World Sports and Marketing. “Of course, they are all excited to be here. The weather I think is going to be great this weekend and everyone is happy to be here to see their favorite pros riding.”
Bischoff and his team at World Sports and Marketing were not new to the Sparks Marina when they set up shop Friday morning. In fact, the company brought several wakeboarding events to the Marina, spanning about five years. After “a year or two off” though, Bischoff said he was happy to bring the MyWake Main Event to Sparks.
“We have always had an amazing relationship with Sparks,” he said. “We love it. We could not wait to get back here this year. Tigé fell in love with the venue, and we knew it was a great venue, so we are just excited to be back.”
Bischoff sighted key components such as the proximity of the airport, the partnership with John Ascuaga’s Nugget and the support from the City of Sparks when expressing his excitement of hosting the event in the Rail City.
“All of that stuff is just outside of what you actually get with the park,” Bischoff said. “We have a perfect grassy shoreline and an amphitheater style for spectators to watch the event where everyone can chill and check it out. Then you get out on the water and it is a nice, protected body of water. It is deep water so the wake forms really big for the wakeboarders and wakesurfers to do their best tricks. All in all, it has always been a great venue for us.”
Matt Robertson, a 17-year-old wakesurfer in the amateur men’s division, was visiting Sparks for the first time in his young competition career. He said the setup at the marina favors competitors and spectators alike, and he added that those who weren’t familiar with the sport could still enjoy the day.
“I really like this venue,” the Texas native said. “It is really good for viewing because it is flat and has a straight-away so you can line the shore and watch from wherever you want. The buoys are not that far away from the shore so you can get a really good view.
“It is really cool being able to watch on the monitor so the announcer knows exactly what is going on out there. It is really good to have such an accessible format for everyone to watch not just for the other competitors, but for anyone who lives around here that doesn’t know what it is can come and enjoy it too.”
Robertson said he was “lucky” to make it to the finals Friday after punching his ticket as a runner-up throughout the summer, filming himself wakesurfing behind his family’s boat in Austin, Texas. He spoke positively of his run Friday afternoon, which was only his third amateur competition, and said he looks forward to the added enjoyment that comes with competing rather than leisurely practicing.
The event continues Saturday and Sunday with festivities beginning at 10 a.m. and going until about 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday also feature professional riders in all three facets of watersport, which Bischoff said provides entertainment rarely found anywhere else.
“The cool thing is we are talking about action sports,” Bischoff said. “We are talking crazy technical tricks with the wakesurfers and wakeskaters, but then when you get into the wakeboarding, you are talking about guys that are launching 10 to 15 feet in the air and are going to wreck themselves if something goes wrong. It is a gnarly sport and lots of big air will happen this weekend.
“It is also a very family-oriented sport because when you think of boating, you think of everyone going out with the family on the boat. All the riders are super friendly and it is just a fun atmosphere for everyone.”
For more information about the MyWake Global Challenge, visit www.mywake.tige.com.