Last week was an exciting time for wakeboarders all over Central Florida. The 2012 Nautique Wake Games was held at the Orlando Watersports Complex last Wednesday through Saturday. Some of the world’s best wakeboarders made their way to Orlando to battle it out and see who would win the $6,000 prize and title of King of Wake. Many UCF students went out to watch this tournament as well to watch these professional riders compete.
The games consisted of four days of competitions. Wednesday and Thursday were the qualifying rounds where riders challenged each other in 22 rounds with only 90 competitors moving on to the live draft, which was held Thursday evening. Each rider that moved on was placed on a team of professional and amateur wakeboarders. The team with the highest collective score won the over-all title of the King of Wake.
Orlando has hosted the wake games since 2007 and it is easy to see why with the beautiful weather and clear, glassy lakes. Chris Bischoff, the event coordinator for the Wake Games, referred to Orlando as “the Mecca for wakeboarding.”
“Orlando makes it easy for wakeboarders to find a place to board because there are lakes everywhere,” Bischoff said.
Bischoff mentioned that the event has brought many athletes and wakeboard enthusiasts to the Orlando area. He goes on to say that the event is a fun source of family entertainment and he hopes Orlando will continue to host the wake games in the future.
The lake where Orlando Watersports Complex is located is specifically designed for wakeboarders to hit their biggest jumps. The park has two lakes with different courses for the boarders.
The sponsors of the event, including Nautique of Orlando and Rockstar Energy Drinks, were at the event to support the competitors and enjoy the competition. All of the the sponsors were giving away t-shirts, posters, water bottles and stickers to the crowd of people that attended Saturday.
MTV camera crews attended the wake games to film for a new reality series called Wake Brothers, which features brothers Bob and Phil Soven from Longwood, Fla.
Dallas Friday, another professional wakeboarder from Orlando, returned to compete for the first time since her knee injury in 2010. Bischoff recalled Friday’s grueling knee injury two years ago saying that she injured it going into what would have been one of her best seasons yet. Bischoff also said that he is glad she is back and has high hopes for her in the competition. Friday placed third in the Women’s Pro Final on Saturday making a memorable comeback.
Some of the riders that were competing in the contest were from the Central Florida area, and there were also riders who came from Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand to win the title of The King of Wake. Riders included Steel Lafferty, Meagan Ethell and Harley Clifford who won the Men’s Pro Semi-finals division.
Alexa De La Cruz, a UCF freshman and avid wakeboarder, who attended the event on Saturday said that one of the perks of moving to Orlando was the OWC being located so close to campus.
“My friends and I go to the park every chance we get,” De La Cruz said. “It’s a fun way to relieve stress.”
De La Cruz was not surprised about the outcome of the competition but said that it was a “well deserved win.”
UCF freshmen Daniel Oliva, a business major, and Bradley Weaver, a sports and exercise science major, attended the tournament final day of the event on Saturday. It was the first wakeboarding competition they had been to.
“I have never tried wakeboarding,” Weaver said. “I just came to watch the competition.”
“I wish to try wakeboarding in the future, it looks so fun,” Oliva said.
The finals, which were held on Saturday, resulted in Phil Soven emerging victorious winning the $6,000 purse and claiming the title of The King of Wake. Claiming the $6,000 prize for the double-up competition was professional rider Jimmy Lariche. In a battle between Oli Derome and Harley Clifford in the expression section, Nautique awarded each of the riders a $5,000 check. Meagan Ethell won the Women’s Pro division with Raimi Merritt and Dallas Friday following.