Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Professional Wake Surfer Stacia Bank from the 2013 World Wake Surfing Championship!

Authors: World Wake Surfing Championship

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Mastercraft and the PWT

Authors: Flyboy Wakesurf

You’ve probably heard that MC pulled it’s sponsorship from the PWT. It’s not a surprise really, they booted women earlier so you had to figure, the men were next. Now, in their statement there is an indication that MC will be working on a new format and hopefully will support a different tour of sorts. A quote from the MC press release:

james air

“MasterCraft thanks the team at World Sports for over 25 years of making the Pro Tour such a highly regarded event,” said Aarne Clow, MasterCraft team and event manager. “Despite our wonderful history, there have been so many changes to the wake scene over the last few years that have resulted in the slow decline of attendance and participation, we felt it was the right time to go back to the drawing board, work with our team of world class athletes and deliver a different experience for 2015 and beyond.”

Over at whackyworld.com, there seemed to be a strong feeling that part of the decline in the audience is attributable to the cost of wakeboats. Makes sense, 100K + is a tidy some for most and so folks believe that is what is driving the increase in attendance at cable park events. It certainly makes sense, anyone with a board and transportaion that lives close to a cable park can go practice or ride, wakeboats are pricey and pricey to operate. Yahoo News recently published an article that indicated income, for the most part hasn’t increased for the vast majority of folks since pre-recession days. Also that the jobs that have been added to the economy, they are mostly low paying manufacturing and retail positions. Not folks that will be buy 100K boats anytime soon.

If you do a quick serach on “decline in attendance at professional sporting events” you’ll see that it isn’t peculiar to just wake related events, everything from pro football on down is feeling the pinch and is striving to make the attendance at a live event more enjoyable. Cost is cited, but so is huge TV screens in your living room with wifi for your phone and computer so that in the 80% when NOTHING IS HAPPENING, you can be entertained with something else. We think one of the major league sports is working to provide on-demand instant replays of anything you want on the field. There is a LOT to be said for a telecast that provides a better viewing experience than in the nosebleed section of a stadium.

The reality is that sponsorship of any sort of sporting event is an advertising expenditure. It’s not a charitable contribution, if there are alternative opportunities for those advertisng dollars, that can do MORE for MC, it’s to be expected that they will chose those alternatives. One thing to take note, as a contest promoter/organizer, there has to be value and increased participation year-over-year and that means being responsive to what folks want or need in order to make them leave the house.

Then we ran across this really interesting blog post from Darin Shapiro. You’ll remember him from back in the day as a world champion wakeboarder. He describes a few things that caught our attention, one was that all of the current runs are looking alike. We’ve mentioned that with wakesurfing, the judging system, inherent bias and the contest format forces a uniformity in riding. Guess what, that’s boring! The other part that we think Darin sort of misses on, but he talks about how wakeboarding runs have become overly technical. His answer is to go big and he compares the current state of wakeboarding to trick skiing. That isn’t the deal though. The deal is that all of the riders, to be competitive, have to ride the same. Of course homogeneity is boring, swapping “technical” homogeneity for “going big” homogeneity is still homogeneous and will eventually run the same course to BOOOOORING.

Judging and the folks in control need to get out of the way and allow riders to develop their own style and methods of tricks. Until that happens, it will always be the same funnel where eventually it all comes down to the same tricks and the same style of riding. That’s not rocket science!

In a contests FAQ section where it was trying to explain the differences between surf and skim it noted that surf would typically be limited to surface rotations of 720 and less. HOGWASH! Of course it didn’t mention no back bigs or shuv sequences. WTH?! Like at your local break you’d see even one back big on a surfboard! Can you imagine if instead they limited aerial height to under 18 inches? It would be just as ludicrous but there would be more folks that would say that nuts! Not that surf style needs to focus on surface rotations, it just needs the control mongers to get the F out of the way. It’s that sort of mentality, the limiting of surface rotations, but not aerial height or what we all identify as skim related tricks that is the undoing of the fun in watching…that FORCES riders to all the ride the same and that eventually, like the PWT will create this homogeneous mess.

Just let the riders ride and rather than trying to control the outcome and how folks should ride with your own stupid prejudice, let the riders skill and diversity wow us.

The MC folks aren’t stupid, they may be more brutally honest than we care to be, but you have to respect them for that. Hopefully wakesurf contests won’t follow the PWT down that same path.  We need scoring and judging system changes and a format change.

Thanks for reading our rant, we hope you had a great weekend!

Technorati Tags: control mongers ruin it, judging sucks, let the riders ride

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