After spending the winter in Florida our visas were expiring so it was time to head back to Europe for the European Wakeboard Tour. We had arranged to basically spend the next three months traveling, doing clinics for our sponsors and competing on the tour. The Euro Tour is a lot like the US tour except you get to go to some really cool countries and sample a little of the different lifestyles each nation has to offer. With places like Amsterdam, Switzerland, Rome and London, who knows what's going to happen.
So, we boxed up all of our stuff in Florida, threw some stuff into two Hyperlite board bags and jumped on a plane to England. After a day and a half meeting some of our sponsors and finalizing our diary we jumped on a couple more planes and ended up in Nice, France for the first stop of the O'Neill European Wakeboard Tour. Not only were we super jet-lagged, but our wakeboards and clothes had gone missing somewhere in Europe, so we borrowed some digs from a few friends and headed out with the rest of the riders to test out a few of the local nightclubs.
The next day our boards arrived ten minutes before we were due to compete which was nice, but what was more fun was the night session that evening. After the prelims on Saturday the tour organizers, Rebel Media, threw a huge party. Everybody parked their rental cars on the beach with their headlights on and we took a session. Drinking Red Bull and vodka, we managed to have a killer time with some insane action on and off water.
Monday came around and it was on to Portugal. We were going to a big sports complex in the Portuguese Mountains to do a 5-day wakeboard clinic and then judge a small competition. The guys were really cool there. We had our own private house overlooking one of the best lakes to ride on in Europe. We got some great sessions in, not to mention some of the fun we had with some of the locals at night.
After Portugal we went to Nottingham, England to visit the Master Craft Europe headquarters and do some training before we went on to the next stop in Austria. With Ian Birdsall (owner of Master Craft Europe) as the captain of his own private plane and Julz as co-pilot, it was definitely the coolest way we've ever arrived at a tour stop.
Austria was a blast as Dave "The Dog" Reinhart was also there competing (Now we know where that name comes from). The partying was non-stop but we managed to get two hours of sleep from Friday to Monday. The riding was cool too although a little rolly. Nevertheless Nick stuck a killer pass taking first place in freestyle.
On Sunday night, the editor of the Italian wakeboard magazine Ride & Fly, Paolo Girard, had arranged to take us to the Stubal Glacier on the Austrian/Italian border, only a couple hour drive from the site. The next morning we got up, started to climb the mountain and after two 40-minute gondola rides we were at the top of the world. Greeted by brilliant sunshine, two-foot fresh powder and absolutely nobody else on the mountain, we managed to nail some killer hits and super cool drops. Nick even managed to pull a perfect Raley from the T-Bar lift which Paolo managed to get pictures of.
Then it was onwards to Italy, the land of the "Fresh Balena" (ask Gator for the translation). We had planned to be in Italy for three weeks doing clinics at different cities. Although that was fun, we also managed to go to Riccone which is one of the party capitals of Europe, right on the beach. With the way the Italian women dress, as well as their super friendly attitudes, you can imagine the fun we had.
Anyhow, back to business and the third stop of the O'Neill European Tour in northeast Italy. The riders had a tough time dealing with the salt water and all the topless girls, but Dave Brriscoe was like a kid with a new toy. Once we showed him exactly where to look, we kept losing him for hours. Gator blew up, of course, stealing all the prize money, but Nick took first place and the European Expression Title while Julz captured a credible fourth.
The most important thing was the Saturday night party and it was the best one yet. There was a bus organized to take everyone, including the judges and organizers, to a nightclub that was insane. We had a special VIP area with free champagne all night, so things got a little crazy especially when four cross-dressers showed up and Stephan Traeger couldn't tell the difference.
After the event, and recovery from the party, we went onwards to Rome to do another clinic with Paolo. We were met by Kelly Kingman and Gator, but with as organized as the Italians are, nothing happened until 11:30 every day. The highlight, of course, would be the evening meal that lasted four hours and then our hosts would insist we go and check out the local talent at the nightclubs.
So, in the next couple of weeks we will not only be going to Berlin for a tour stop, but we'll be taking Gator to one of our favorite places - Amsterdam. We'll do our best to remember what we got into and let you know next issue.