Cable and boat wakeboarding are two entirely different sports, but the general public would never know it. It’s cool to see companies like Red Bull try to push the boundaries of both sports to delineate them as unique.
Red Bull Wake Rivals is a collegiate wakeboard contest that aims to evolve the competitive atmosphere of cable wakeboarding by taking the riders out of their element. With a format derived from Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1, and OWC being one of the worlds most iconic cable parks, they had stirred up a recipe for success. They added 4 Red Bull wake athletes into the mix as team coaches to bring the tensions to a boil.
When the teams were chosen from a hat, the coach breakdown looked like this:
Massi Piffa: UCF
Meagan Ethell: USF
Steel Lafferty: UF
Mike Dowdy: FSU
With the help of 18 production quality theatre lights, they had the ability to illuminate each kicker or rail in the team colors of the school who did the best trick on that respective obstacle. The sense of ownership and loss of each obstacle really helped bring these collegiate rivalries to light…quite literally.
The contest was kicked off with a video edit portion, which exemplified the dynamic differences between the teams. Each team was tasked with creating a 2+ minute video edit. The competitors, coaches, and judges, could vote once, but not for their own team. UF had some banger boat tricks from their up and comers like Mac Schramm and Juan Mendez. FSU got creative with some 3D animation. UCF showed how to make technical cable tricks look great. In the end it was USF who came out on top, winning by just 2 votes! They had a very high quality production with a great balance of boat, cable, and lifestyle clips that showed why collegiate wakeboarding is so much fun.
When it came contest time, the women strapped up first to show the boys how it’s done. A backroll to revert and a 360 claimed each of the kickers. After 12 laps the score was fairly even with each team on the board.
Wakeskate took to the water next and proved that you don’t need boots to throw down hammers. From 540s to benihanas, it was no joke!
When the Men took to the water, it was UCF’s time to shine. OWC turned into what looked like a chameleon rave festival with obstacles changing colors with every trick! UF would throw a steezy grab, only to be taken over by FSUs whirly bird, only to be one upped by UCF’s Backside 720! Progression is key when other teams are stealing your obstacles.
When it was all said and done, University of Central Florida’s Knights Wake team took home the title of Red Bull Wake Rivals Champions, for the second year running. I’m sure you’ll see some trash talking on Instagram, and maybe even a @CollegeWakeZeach post about having hometown advantage, but you can’t argue with a score like this:
The palpable competitive nature of these universities is what drives a passionate portion of this sport’s collegiate wakeboarders. It’s a healthy level of zeal and ambition that pushes these riders to progress, innovate, and be one step ahead of their rivals. The key is that they push each other, they support each other, and they love every second of it. It will be interesting to see where these rapidly growing rivals end up next!
What’s more, after the contest was over, the four Red Bull athletes took to the park to play in the spotlight. Check out the photos: