We just came home from the 2012 WWSC and we really had a great time. We may never fully get used to that heat, but the event overall was a grand time. Concerts, special events, demonstrations, vendor booths HUGE payday for the riders and there seemed to be just a ton of stuff going on. Wake Shredder and Mendonesia swag give aways, interviews, ongoing commentary from industry notables and tons of competition wakesurf boards.
We are so proud of our James Walker for nailing down second place in the men’s open surf division. You have to understand some of the background, his grandmother died on Friday and there is just no way that can’t affect you, even if you know it’s coming. Plus he is holding down a full time job, going to school full time and he maintains his own residence. He had to push forward a lecture and test to be able to attend the event, so that week was crazy stressful and on the day of prelims he was rushing to submit homework just minutes before his first ride!!!! Just huge levels of stress and pressure and while he didn’t knock down high school student and just turned 17 year old Keenan, he truly did an astonishing job. Congratulations James and that was a huge victory for you! The final scores showed that Keenan edged out James by 3 points 435 to 432, with James’ subjective score and objective score the same at 216, the only pro that had that peculiarity. Seriously close! Podium picture!
But that isn’t what we want to talk about. We know that with any contest there are always rumblings of favortism and injustice, no one who wins ever says that, just the folks in second and down. Human nature and quite frankly, we think that’s emotionally honest. So long as you aren’t taking it to your grave, that’s a normal response. We had to laugh at a response by an individual who lauded emotional DISHONSETY, it was like that person lied so well, we really respect them for that! We think that’s nuts, but we also know those folks really value good, credible emotional dishonesty. AND therein lies one of the biggest issues with judging. YOU personal may value HIGHLY someone that puts up a front that says – oh yeah, no sweat and then behind the scenes bemoans a situation. We just think that’s dishonest and we don’t have much respect for that. Now the issue that arises is those are two very different frameworks and guess what? We all have that. Every single damn one of us.
There are those that absolutely LOVE and respect a good facade, regardless of what’s behind it and others that think that sucks. So that sort of thing also translates to judging, right? I mean the facade deal is a judgement and in wakesurfing performance that exists too. That happens at every single contest whether it be wakesurfing or Olympic gymnastics. Folks man really like airs or really like grabs or really hate grabs or really like surface rotations…and all of that comes to the subjective components and you know what else? Some folks LIKE some folks over other folks. No matter what we say, we can’t be unbiased. We’re human, not machines. So, you get to make your own judgements about the judging!
Now, what we wanted to talk about was an observation from that contest. There were some really important consistencies in the placing that got our shaping gears going a gazillion miles an hour and we wanted to share those observations with you.
First off here are some pictures from the podium of the 2012 WWSC, see if you can guess the observations.
Women’s Pro Skim
Men’s Pro Skim
Women’s Pro Surf
Men’s Pro Surf
Ok, can you pick out the various patterns in there?
Well in three of the divsions the winner is in elementary school or high school. Second and third places went to adults, but the top spots went to children. So what does that tell us? Obviously if mom is doing your laundry and making your lunch, you don’t have much interrupting your training time. The reality is that pro level wakesurfing doesn’t exist. Well it does, but there isn’t significant enough money in it to allow folks to make a living, so who wins? Reallt talented kids. Folks that have no significant responsibilities and can practice more. That’s probably part of the evolution of the sport, but it was REALLY prevelant at this event, the fact that we have no real infrastructure to support pros, unlike in wakeboarding where they move to Florida to train all year and make a decent living. So your wakesurfing pro career peaks at high school graduation? Wow that’s an eye-opener. There isn’t any other sport where children routinely beat adults. 75% did in the World Wake Surfing Championship. Now for 2013 there is a proposal that the purse will be $100,000 We’re not sure what that will divide up like, but possibly $15,000 for first? Probably still not a living, but it’s definately a step in the right direction. BUT for the industry, you aren’t supporting the pros, plain and simple, that will bite you in the ass because the pros are your lifeblood.
What else do you see in there? It’s most evident in the women’s pro skim. All of those riders regularly practice behind a 244. All three. Not like one, all three. Men’s Pro Skim, winners family owns one. Men’s Pro Surf, winners family owns one. So three of the fours winners own or regularly practice behind the 244. The conclusion to that HAS to be that the wake of the 244 is unique and requires significant familiarization for folks to optimize their riding. That isn’t a value judgment but I am sure folks will turn it into one, it’s just that the 244 wake is unique. Maybe it’s the best EVER, maybe not. That isn’t the point, the point is that those who practice behind it regularly, did better than those who didn’t in significant proportions.
See anything else? Well Raliegh is what, 60 pounds? How much do 10 year olds weigh? Anyway, her board is fairly thick, it’s a typical surf style competition wakesurf board maybe 2 to 2.5 inches thick. LOTS of volume for her comparable weight. It’s way too much board for her, but maybe Billy Clark is the smartest of all the shapers? Bri Chmel, if you don’t know her, is just the tiniest thing. Maybe 4’10″ tall. Her board is carzy wide, close to 2 feet, look at the picture in the Pro Women’s skim, it’s several inches wider than all the others. Now Noah isn’t a small kid, but he’s still a kid and has just crazy mad skills, but he’s also riding the board that is sized directly for his bigger and older brother. The consistency within those observations is that less rider mass and larger board volume/area PER rider weight was the winning combination behind those 244′s at the 2012 WWSC. Did you see the contrary obeservation? Where are the big guys? Where are the Jimmi Sparlings?
There is no argument that Jimmi is a podium quality rider, but he is notable absent. Also no argument that Jimmi is a big guy and athletic, too. So we have the contrary support, bigger folks, can’t use their normal boards on that wake, they simply weren’t competitive. Smaller, lighter riders that aren’t dependent on the wake itself did better. In one of Bri’s passes, she had this amazing recovery, the crowd watching went wild, but she wasn’t on the wake, no pumping involved, she rode down the face of the secondary roller. That isn’t really skill, not that she isn’t she’s doing back bigs, so she’s got skillsssss, but in that instance, it was her being light and on a too big board that allowed her to skim forward. Lock that into your brain when looking at your next competition level wakessurf board. 244 = need for bigger board than you normally ride.
So what do we see within all of this? Children, or smaller folks who ride behind the 244 regularly on a board that’s a bit too big for them, is the winning combination.
Obviously we can’t turn back the clock, but mostly what that tells us is that more practice BEHIND a 244 is a key element for winning at events that use the 244. Also a board that is bigger than your normal board is probably a necessity at an event towed by the 244. So behind your boat, behind many other boats you can use your normal board, but for those contests pulled by the 244, MORE board is the key.
Lastly, it’s very evident that experience behind the 244 is paramount to doing well at those events. Man, we wouldn’t pimp the 244, but the reality is that the winners in most of the pro divisions, do. Got a spare 80 grand? No, neither do we. BUT, we also have some observations and emeprical evidence that we’ll take with us back to the shaping room and we’ll most likley have 2 different competition wakesurf boards, one for the 244 and one for everything else! It’s impossible to lose enough weight to be a 10 year old, or shrink down to 4’10″ again, but the relative proportions of those riders to their boards is a critical element for success behind that 244. Respect it. It was proven at the 2012 WWSC Finals
Thanks so much for following along, we really appreciate it!