TNT Watersports Wakefest 2023

Rapa, Ethelll and Ditsch on top at TNT Watersports Wakefest.
TNT Watersports Wakefest 2023
Spectators get as close as they can to the action. Courtesy TNT Watersports

Becoming one of the best days of the summer for athletes and spectators, The TNT Watersports Wakefest boasts the largest on-water wake event in the world. A unique venue, the houseboats and floatilla members trek out from Pates Ford Marina at Center Hill Lake to a secluded spot with no residential houses in sight. In the event’s 18th year, the contest passes are lined with boats full of wake enthusiasts and partygoers getting as close to the action as one can get. The riders were pulled by Malibu Boats’ newest 2024 offerings.

“TNT Watersports was a first-class host for a world class event,” shared wake industry legend and perennial good-time-haver Kevin Michael who joined Parks Bonifay on the mic announcing the action.

The WWA Malibu Boats Riders Experience East kicked off on Friday with amateur divisions getting time behind the newly redesigned Malibu LSV, a staple boat model in the wake industry. The Pro Men capped off the day with a traditional two-run format paying out a healthy purse to draw the top riders in the world. Nic Rapa was back to his expected form and healed up from injury to take the win.

The Pro Women took center stage on Saturday and through difficult riding conditions, Meagan Ethell found the top of the podium with her signature smooth execution and technical tricks.

Ulf Ditsch and friends with check
Ulf Ditsch (White shirt; beard) won $25,000 at Wakefest 2023. He is surrounded by friends and fellow pros, including, Guenther Oka, Meagan Ethell, Jake Pelot, Sam C. Brown, Tyler Higham, Massi Piffa, Luca Kidd, Jamie Lopina, Kai Ditsch ( Ulf’s brother), Pablo Monroy, Diego Monsalve, Daniel Miles. Courtesy Ulf Ditsch

The grand finale was the $25k shootout where the riders put down their best 4 trick line, in a no-falls-allowed, winner-takes-all format. The La Familia crew brought the party when one of their own, Ulf Ditsch, took home the largest single purse available in the sport today. Ulf and his brother have had good luck at this event rising to the occasion multiple times over the last few years. This year it was Ulf’s commitment to taking his 4 trick line out into the flats on each hit that separated him from the field. The judges gave him the nod and his crew hoisted him up on their shoulders at the awards party at the waterfront bar Fish Lipz.

“The bands were great; the vibes were all-time and everyone there was having the time of their lives,” shared Michael. It is only fitting that a progressive rider with a supportive group of fellow competitors whose love for the sport is so evident would win one of the most talked about events of the year.