Last weekend one of the most exciting events in boat wakeboarding took place on Center Hill Lake in central Tennessee. TN WakeFest, hosted by TNT Watersports and presented by Fishlips Bar and Grill and Tootsies Orchid Lounge, once again took place just outside of Smithville, TN and brought avid wakeboarders from all across the nation to partake in the unique “water-access-only” contest without any land access for the riders or spectators. As the 5th and final stop of the Malibu Riders Experience and Regional Championships, the event draws a wide array of wake and lake enthusiasts from the surrounding areas. With hundreds of boats tied-up in the boatline and over a dozen houseboats and barges to outline the course, amateur and pro riders alike were surrounded by cheering fans during their individual rides.
In the pro women’s division, a tough fought battle for the podium concluded with Axis Boats team rider, Bec Gange claiming the victory with a run that included an indy tantrum, a toeside 540, and a moby dick that solidified her 1st place finish. Meagan Ethel and Dallas Friday finished in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
For the pro men, it would once again be Nic Rapa standing on top of the podium to make his third consecutive win at TN WakeFest. A day before his 25th birthday, Rapa completed a near perfect run that included an indy grabbed backside off-axis 720, a mute half cab double backroll, and a double indy tantrum. Rapa was trailed by Guenther Oka and Cory Teunissen ( Team Nautique, Red Bull) on the podium in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
The most unique part of TN WakeFest is the $25,000 4-Trick Shoot Out, where the pro riders only get four tricks to impressive the judges and win the biggest purse in wakeboarding. All the participating riders are sequestered during the Shoot Out to insure that no rider is able to see what tricks the other riders perform, forcing them to rely solely on their skills and not on any competitive strategy. With the winner-take-all format, the tensions are extremely high and the contest is action-packed with only the hardest tricks being attempted. In one of the most nail-biting Shoot Outs to have ever happened, only a small margin separated the top three riders. But in the end, it was Ronix team rider Tyler Higham who took the win with a mute half cab double backroll, switch and regular grabbed heelside 900s, and a nose grabbed KGB 540. This marks Tyler Higham’s first victory at a live pro event and puts his name on the short list of riders who have ever claimed a WakeFest Shoot Out victory.