WBM: What is the World Series?
Jimmy: The WWA World Series will be the first professional global wakeboard tour. The Series will bring together cash events held in South America, Europe, Asia, and North America.
Shannon: WWA has always had affiliate countries around the world that run their own events. This series will combine them. We have taken the biggest events in the world inside and outside of the U.S with the largest cash prizes and best locations. We took the best places to ride that generate the biggest crowds and put them in one series. The WWA has been working on this for years.
What is the purpose of this series?
JR: The purpose of the WWA World Series is to grow wakeboarding globally. For years, we have been working with and developing WWA affiliate organizations. Now is the time to link a select number of top level professional wakeboard events happening around the globe into a unified series with top prize purses, great venues, major promotions, and consistent judging. Additionally, the WWA Worlds will be moving out of the US in 05, and this Series will help to lay the ground work for that transition.
SS: This is our job, this is what we do. We grow wakeboarding globally. We want to make global superstars out of the athletes and take wakeboarding to the world, while looking for global sponsorships. And last, we get to go to a lot of cool places. I’d like to see the top eight guys in the world show up to these events. I feel that if wakeboarding doesn’t expand more outside of the U.S. it’s growth is going to slow down. This takes the pros abroad. I think that riders have been begging for something different. They have been going to the same events in the states year after year. The World Series is an avenue for the pros to go new places and attract new sponsors on a worldwide level.
What is the WWA going to do differently than the IWSF to represent wakeboarding on a worldwide level?
JR: Simple, the WWA wants to run wakeboard events by wakeboarders all over the world. We are not a division of a waterskiing federation. We simply want to put on the best events we can with the partnership of like minded individuals and associations worldwide.
SS: They [IWSF] just haven’t done justice to wakeboarding, period. First off, we’re holding wakeboard specific events with prize money that actually means something. We’ve set requirements on TV media and established criteria for event organizers to optimize positive exposure for wakeboarding. And, with our WWA officials required to run events, we have more control on how people are influenced by wakeboarding. There has to be a panel of worldwide judges. We can do clinics and make the overall judging of the sport better. Each event sort of becomes a big think-tank. But, we’re bringing the pros to the backyard of countries that don’t get to see that level of riding very often. Taking riders and growing their superstar status is a huge part of it.
Why would a rider work overtime to participate?
SS: Why wouldn’t they? If you travel enough, you get the Crown Room for free [laughs]. The first stop of the series will set the ranking for the rest of the series. If a rider walks out of the first event in the top five some of the organizers will then cover the top riders expenses to be at their events. There is a lot of incentive to do this series. The individual event organizers want the best athletes.
JR: This is a great opportunity for professional riders to travel the globe, make some money, and promote their spoonsors to markets outside of the US. In the past, there has only been a strong, unified Pro Tour in the states. The events outside of the US have been run as independent events. Now these top events will be linked with consistent standards for purse and judging, as well as a final purse for the global points race.
What’s the payout?
SS: Right now we have event to event cash plus a healthy end of the year purse. For the series, first receives 15,000, 10,000 for second, and 5,000 for third. It’s a point series, so whoever has the most points at the end of the year wins the World Series of Wakeboarding. The point spread is super, super tight. It’s in the riders’ best interest to attend as many of these events as possible for a shot at the overall win.
How many stops are there?
SS: Tentatively seven, but right now we are guaranteed six;
April 1-4 Rio De Janiero, Brazil ABW
June 26-28 Thun, Switzerland – Wakestock
July 16-17 Irvine, California WWA
July 23-25 Tokyo, Japan JWBA
August 6-8 Bala, Canada – Wakestock
Sept 30-October 3 Orlando, Florida – WWA Wakeboard Worlds
Go to www.thewwa.com for more info.