Wakeboarding is cool. It combines the favourite past time of every rap star, famous person, and russian billionaire; riding about in expensive boats. With your average joe’s favourite past time of riding boards. Due to this, your average wakeboarder is a cross between Jay Z, Paris Hilton, Roman Abramovich and Cletus the slack jawed jokel. A bizarre combination indeed, but one which is nevertheless cool.
In fact, wakeboarding is so cool that a small wakeboarding event and a party in a car park in the year 2000 has now grown to become a 25,000 capacity festival headlined by some of the best acts in Europe. The event also plays faithful to its roots and many of the worlds best wakeboarders attend to compete for cash prizes in various competitions like Pool Gap Rail Jams in the main arena and Big Air comps that take place just off site in the sea.
After an intense drive through the moonlit mountains of Snowdonia I arrived at the hotel on Thursday night and got a good nights kip, ready to take on the wakeboarding world in the morning. Unfortunately I awoke to a torrential downpour and spent all morning watching TV in the hotel, this wasnt such a bad thing as the festival gates didn’t open till 4pm anyway. However when they finally did open, the situation wasn’t much better. Ominous grey clouds and heavy showers were the order for the day.
Although it might have been rather grey, cold and wet outside, inside the tents the atmosphere was buzzing. The likes of Lethal Bizzle, Kissy Sell Out and Chase and Status put on a cracking show for the amassed, slightly damp crowd.
Due to the weather, i didn’t fancy moping around on the beach watching wakeboarding and as we left the festival site on friday, the sky was beginning to glow a shade of red…
Turns out that red sky at night, as well as being pleasing to shepherds, is also a wakeboarders delight. Being red hot, sunny and just generally absolutely-bloody-marvellous, Saturday was a complete contrast to Friday. With a crowd ever so skimpily dressed, the pool gap rail jams on Saturday went off.
Now, don’t hate on me, but I couldn’t really tell what was going on wakeboard wise on Saturday.Â Firstly, I couldn’t name you one single pro/semi-pro/am wakeboarder on the planet apart from my mate James who took me wakeboarding on the river Ouse this one time (i was extremly ill the day after; thanks York) and my other pal Ellie who also has a boat and a wakeboard. Secondly, I only managed to watch a little bit of wakeboarding because, you know, I was at festival and there were plenty of bands, beers and babes to be enjoyed. Nonetheless, the guys and gals who were shredding the cable 2.0 pool gap on Saturday were absolutely sick, killing it with all kinds of tech, stylish and all round radical tricks.
This guy was killing it with some front lipslides to 450s out, stomping em every time like an absolute badman.
There was even one guy who was so quick all my photos of him came out blurry. Check out the sparks, you might say his style is electric. (cmon, you didn’t expect me to refrain from bad puns at a festival whose name is a play on woodstock did you?!)
This girl was on fire, sending it solid and stylish with uber smooth nose slideroooos on the flat box.
Once again I have no idea who this kid was but he was hitting it hard. Firecracker/rockslide in front of the crowds on short shorts Saturday.
I don’t think there was any kind of competition going on on Saturday, but the crowd seemed to enjoy the riders who were doing there thing. As the wakeboarding ended the music kicked off and everyone got a little bit ravey to the dubstep sounds of Sub Focus. After that, soulful pop mistress Kelis was on. Her milkshake brought all the boys to the yard and everyone had a bounce, but to be honest, for me it was just a little bit a’capella. (ok i admit it, those puns were pretty shit).
Sunday was the pool gap finals, and a bunch of rad looking dudes and dudettes were competing to win the cash prizes. The standard of riding in the 5 run finals was impressive. To be honest i’ve ever really seen a lot of wakeboarding and, call me ignorant but I was surprised with the high standard of tricks like stylish combos, nose press 270 out, switch ups, tap revert 270 outs and a couple of 450 outs that were being landed like nobody’s business. All whilst having to hold on to and pass a handle around! For me, coming from a snow/skate background, having to worry about holding on to something whilst shredding is mental. So mad respect to you wakeboarders who not only shred radical, but have arms like popeye’s from all that being dragged about by cables and powerboats.
Anyway, CK Koester (I know his name cos i’ve just watched a video from the pool gap finals on vimeo and matched him to this photo. Shhhh, dont tell anyone) was destroying the flat down flat with tricks like this Â backside 270 out.
Marc Rossiter (this video is really handy for helping me name wakeboarders) was slaying Â it steezy with a solid back lip through the kinks, keeping it right on the tail all the way through.
Not to be outdone, CK Koester was also chasing tail.
But it was Mitch Langfield who pipped them to the post, Â claiming the number one spot despite clawing the face of an innocent bystander.
Wakestock 2011 Pool Gap Results:
- Mitch “claws for hands” Langfield
- CK Koester
- Marc Rossiter
After enjoying the pool gap shenanigans I got to check out the Cribs, Example and Biffy Clyro on sunday night, or at least i think i did, for some reason my recollection of the events seem a bit blurry. I guess it was all that sunshine…
Needless to say I had a great time and Wakestock 2011 wasÂ definitelyÂ a lot of fun. Bring on Wakestock 2012!
Peep the gallery for more shots, including some pretty epic trick faces, a guy with a giant face and some girl bursting out of the water doing the salmon dance in front of a bunch of portaloos…
Words and Photos by Rhys Crilley