By Polly Keary, Editor, with Elana Pigeon, intern
As wakeboarders from around the world gathered to compete in Monroe over the weekend, thousands of local spectators gathered on the shore of Lake Tye to watch.
The Monroe contest was one of five stops on the Mastercraft Pro Wake Tour, which are part of a total of eight contests that make up the annual King of Wake competition, the top pro wakeboarding series in the world.
Athletes from around the world travel to the five contests on the Mastercraft tour, and to the other three events that make up the competition, racking up points throughout the season. The rider with the most points at the end of the year is crowned “King of Wake.”
The contest at Lake Tye is the only Pacific Northwest event in the competition.
Friday, the contest began with the qualifying rounds, and the sounds of a Mastercraft X-Star motorboat filled the air around the lake as passers-by strolled through an avenue of vendors’ booths and watched the Pro Men and Jr. Pro Men compete for a spot in Saturday’s main event.
“We were really happy it worked out to bring the Pro Tour back to Monroe again this year,” said Chris Bischoff, competition director. “The venue is perfect for hosting an event of this magnitude and the fans are really passionate about the sport. We saw some great riding today in both divisions and it’s only going to get better with tomorrow’s main event.”
In all, 48 athletes took to the water Friday, performing huge aerial stunts and riding over and down a floating rail.
At the close of Friday, Steel Lafferty and Rusty Malinoski, both of Florida, and Australia’s Harley Clifford, led the pack with 92 points each in the Pro Men’s division.
Italian Massi Piffaretti, Australians Cory Teunissen and Tony Iacconi, and Florida native Noah Flegel led the Jr. Men’s division.
Saturday was heavily attended, and international wakeboarding star Phil Soven of Florida took the day in the Men’s division, with Tony Iacconi prevailing in the Jr. Men’s.
“A lot of the guys showed up in top form today so I’m just happy to walk away with a win,” said Soven. “I was able to make the most of the conditions and feed off the crowd’s energy and that really helped me put together a good run in the finals.”
The event concluded Sunday with the Polaroid Action Big Air Contests, with riders competing to perform the most spectacular aerial stunts.
That event was won by Adam Errington of Scotland.
Local businesses near Lake Tye reported that the event was a mixed blessing.
Paesano’s Coffee, located on Fryelands Boulevard, got less customers during the competition but made more money because people were buying “big ticket items,” manager Brandi Troka said.
“We get all the wakeboarders and the staff, but we lose our regular customers because they want to avoid the traffic,” owner Bob Argento said.
However, the detour around the street ends right by the coffee shop so they get more traffic from that, he said.