Byerly Toe Jam Presented By O’Neill Wraps Up Huge In Orlando
Photos By Bill Doster
There is no denying that the sport of wakeskating is on another level after the Byerly Toe Jam wakeskate-only contest on April 22-23 at the Projects Park in Orlando, Florida. Ten of the best wakeskaters were invited plus a few qualifiers to compete in Byerly’s unique format of man-to-man showdowns in three different categories including Boat, PWC/Rail Course and The Winch, a mechanism that towed wakeskaters over an exclusive step-down pool gap built by the riders and Pat Panakos.
Already known for riding sick behind the boat, Hyperlite’s Brian Grubb backed up that praise on Friday with some floaty air moves, mostly working the wake-to-wake transition on his passes. Some of his key moves were a toeside shuvit to indy, body varial, method air and a big backside 360 off the double up. Judging was difficult because of the different riding that Aaron Reed brought to the table with many skate-style lip ticks that the Cassette team of wakeskaters are known for. 360 shuv’s and 270 shuv outs were among his arsenal, but in the end, it was Grubb who would take home the honors in The Boat category.
As the sun went down, a heavy crowd showed up under the lights for the Best Trick Winch Contest, showcasing the “Rewind” mechanism brought to the event by its creator, Tony Robinson. With a sharp decline on the step-down, wakeskaters quickly realized “The Ledge” was no easy task and Thomas Horrell was the only wakeskater to ride away among the field of ten. With an “unsettled business” feeling among the group, Byerly would hold off on the Arnette Best Trick award until another session would go down the following night.
A killer day on Saturday drew a decent crowd for the PWC/Rail finals. Non-invitee and up-and-coming Kampus wakeskater, George Daniels showed he can piss with the big dogs as he busted a frontside big spin to kickflip combo in the semis, allowing him the chance to ride in the four man final with Aaron Reed, Danny Hampson and Brian Grubb. The three-fall rule gave riders the chance to throw down and Grubb made the most of it, also winning the PWC/Rail category proving that his skills are diverse enough to beat the world’s best wakeskaters in two different areas of the sport. Grubb was obviously happy about his performance and said, “When I made my kickflip, I knew things were going good.” And Byerly commented, “Grubb just killed it all weekend long. He went against Danny Hampson in the heat before the finals and it was the best riding I’ve ever seen out of both those guys.”
After a short awards ceremony, the riders reconvened at “The Ledge” to finish their unsettled business. The decision to open up another winch session was a good one, because several more riders conquered the gap and Aaron Reed was able to back lip the rail and ride away with the Arnette Best Trick honors. Reed also came out on Sunday to settle some more business by sticking a back lip to shuv out, a truly remarkable move on this type of step down. Byerly said, “That was pretty much the sickest thing I’ve ever seen done on a wakeskate.”
Besides watching the best display of wakeskating ever, spectators had plenty of Red Bull to drink, the “Ruck-N-Roll Summer Jam” featuring Braided Funk jammed both days on the Budweiser stage and Mrs. Byerly herself was flipping burgers and dogs to feed the hungry crowd. Announcers Nick Weinacker and Jeff “JB” Barton kept the crowd entertained while Parks Bonifay, Andy Lazarus, Collin Harrington, Down South Dave, Ryan Byerly and Rich Facciano judged the crazy action on the water.
Byerly commented on the success of his first major event, “Everything went so good