With plenty of sunshine and almost no wind to speak of, the best wakeboarders and wakesurfers in the world took to the unique (and salty) waters of Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona for the first stop of the 2018 Supra Boats Pro Wakeboard Tour. The weather conditions were welcomed, not just because they were ideal for riding, but because the two previous days had been blowing a steady 30 mph with gusts up to 50!
Supra debuted the special edition Pro Wakeboard Tour and Pro Wakesurf Tour SA 550 boats to the public, and immediately fans could be overheard commenting on which one was their favorite. We can't decide either, so we're going to make some calls once this is all said and done and see if we can just have both… Wish us luck!
As mentioned before, the lake at Wild Horse Pass is salt - and like most inland salt lakes it is about five times saltier than the ocean. You might think this would throw riders way off, being that much more buoyant on the water (plus salt water can have a "slippery" feeling), but that wasn't the case as everybody came out swinging and throwing down the incredible passes the PWT has become famous for. The two real questions going into the first stop of the 2018 season were if anybody would be able to dethrone Harley Clifford on the wakeboard side and Noah Flegel on the wakesurf side. The two have been dominant forces for years, which means the targets on their backs are that much bigger.
Two rookies in the wakeboard side, Guenther Oka and Tyler Higham, made their PWT debuts and each qualified for the rest of the season by making it into the quarterfinals. Known for their unique riding, a lot of eyes were watching to see how they would hold up under the pressure. Tyler threw down some solid passes, but ultimately didn't make it out of the quarters. Guenther managed to stomp the rarely seen wrapped toeside backside 900 to advance to the semifinals. Look for these two to continue to make noise throughout the summer.
For both wakeboarding and wakesurf, the finals were full of familiar faces - a testament to how good the top riders are and how much they continue to push themselves and progress. In wakesurfing, Noah Flegel did the first ever board transfer while transferring from one side of the wake to the other. The unique thing about the Pro Wakesurf Tour is that it doesn't separate skim and surf into two divisions. This allows riders like Noah, his brother Keenan, and others like Parker Payne to highlight their ability to ride both surf and skim style boards in one run. The rules allow them to change boards between passes (or, like Noah did, swap mid run as part of a trick). While Keenan and Parker made strong pushes, it was once again Noah who took the top spot to start the season. He also managed to finish 5th in wakeboarding, which, as the only athlete competing in both wakeboarding and wakesurfing, goes to show just how talented he is on the water. You can watch Noah's winning wakesurf run here.
The wakeboard finals featured the likes of Clifford, Mike Dowdy, Cory Teunissen, Nic Rapa, Parker Siegele, and Noah Flegel. With Harley qualifying in the top spot from semis, he was last off the dock in the finals. Despite pressure from strong runs from Cory and Nic, he did what he's become most famous for and put down an incredible run that featured two double inverts, the double indy tantrum and the double mute half cab roll. While Dowdy (3rd place) and Rapa (2nd place) each earned scores over 95, it wasn't enough to overtake the reigning champ. The win gave Clifford his 20th career victory on the PWT, a record for the series, and allowed him to use his second finals run as a victory lap of sorts, where he treated the fans to some giant airs and funny tricks. See Harley's full winning run here.
All-in-all the first stop of the 2018 season was further evidence as to why the PWT has become the premiere contest series in all of wakeboarding. The riders put on a show that highlights just how good and consistent they are. Basically you need at least two double flip tricks in your run to win wakeboarding and a variety of unique tricks (possibly on two types of boards) to win wakesurfing. The second stop of the Supra Boats PWT is May 19 in Acworth, Georgia. If you can't join us there, be sure to tune in via the livestream on our Facebook page!