Knoxville, Tenn. – The top professional wakeboarders from throughout the globe are headed to Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville on Aug. 27 & 28 for the final stop of the 2011 MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour. Over the past few months, the sport's top pros have been competing in a five-city points race for one of the most sought-after trophy in wakeboarding – the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour title.
“We’ve been competing this entire season, waiting to get to Knoxville to see who wins it all,” said current points leader Phillip Soven. “The final stop is always the most exciting contest because it’s everyone’s last shot at winning.”
Soven, 22, of Longwood, Fla., narrowly won the 2010 Pro Tour title by a mere five points after losing to the previous defending champion, Harley Clifford, at last year’s finale in Knoxville.
This season, Soven returns to Volunteer Landing as the top-seeded rider, in hope of winning the fourth overall title of his career – the third most in the Pro Tour’s 20-year history. Only wakeboarding legends Darin Shapiro and Parks Bonifay have more, with six and five titles, respectively.
The only rider that could rival Soven in the point standings for the 2011 Pro Tour title is Harley Clifford, who trails the leader by 45 points.
“Harley and I are both competitors, we’re both hungry to win and we’re both going to throw down for the title in Knoxville,” said Soven. “Harley had a slight setback at the last stop, which gives me a little bit of breathing room in the standings, but I’m not going to let that affect my riding. I’m going for the win.”
During the Pro Tour’s most recent stop in Monroe, Wash., Clifford finished last in the final round of the contest, while Soven ended up winning his third consecutive stop this season. As a result of that placement, there is a 45-point gap in the standings between the two riders.
While Clifford remains in contention for the Pro Tour title, the young Australian phenom is a long-shot to finish first place overall in the standings, as Soven only needs to place seventh or better in Knoxville to secure the title.
“I can only control my riding, so I’m not thinking about the points,” said Clifford. “Regardless where I finish on the Pro Tour, my goal is to win the Knoxville tour stop.”
Clifford’s attitude could pay off for him even if Soven takes home the Pro Tour title, as the former Rookie of the Year winner could still be crowned the King of Wake with a win in Knoxville.
The Knoxville tour stop doubles the final contest in the eight-event King of Wake series, where Clifford can capture his first-ever series crown with a win at Volunteer Landing.
“There’s a lot on the line in Knoxville,” said Clifford.
In addition to the Pro Tour and the King of Wake, the Pro Women’s Queen of Wake series will also crown their winner in Knoxville. Current points leader Amber Wing is already guaranteed to win the eight-event series crown, but several top contenders will still look to make a splash at the season-ending event, including 2011 world champion Nicola Butler.
The ticketed event opens on Saturday, Aug. 27, with preliminary rounds running from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ROCKSTAR Big-Air Kicker contest and Overton’s Double Up contest will also take place on Saturday from 5-7 p.m. Sunday’s finale will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
All winners will be crowned at the 20th annual Pro Tour Awards Party, held at the Bijou Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
Tickets to the event at Volunteer Landing are available at the gate: $13 (adult); $5 (ages 6-12); free (ages 5 and under); or $7 (adult) if purchased online.
For complete coverage of the MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour stop in Knoxville, tune in to the VERSUS television network on Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET.