By Trevor Crawley
Even though the Kootenays is a thousand kilometers or so from the Pacific Ocean, surfers can grab their boards and head out to Koocanusa Lake this weekend for the Koocanusa Wakesurfing Challenge.
The event will be the national qualifier for the World Series of Wake Surfing 2012, which is a tour comprised of seven competitions hosted by countries across the globe.
Presented by the Rocky Mountain Wakesurfing Association, the Koocanusa Wakesurfing Challenge will give local riders a chance to compete against the world’s best while fighting for a spot at the Centurion World Wake Surfing Championship in Parker, AZ, in September.
Competition categories include professional, amateur, junior, senior and masters for both men and women.
While wakesurfing is a relatively unknown cousin of wakeboarding, Caroline Villeneuve, president of the RMWA and a competitor herself, said she had the opportunity to get the competition to Koocanusa and took it.
“I wanted to get the competition to give local people a chance to come, because the last three years I’ve needed to go to the States to compete, because there’s pretty much nothing around,” Villeneuve said. “So I wanted to give people in the East Kootenay a chance to compete.”
Wakesurfing is different from wakeboarding in that a person is riding the waves created from the wake of a boat as it cuts through the water in front of the rider. Wakesurfers only use a towrope to get up out of the water, then toss it away after.
Boats need a lot of weight on the back end and one side to create and maintain a wake for surfers to ply their skills as they move through the water much slower than wakeboarders.
Even though wakesurfers move through the waters at a slower pace, they will still utilize the power of a Centurion Enzo 244 during competition.
Pro riders committed to competing at the event include James Walker, Jimmi Sparling, Keenan Flegel, Jacqualine Fort, Brian Baker, Sean Cummings and Caroline Villeneuve.
Spectators are welcome to come check out the action during the competition at Sunshine Houseboats (Gold Bay) throughout the weekend and especially for the finals taking place on Sunday, August 12.
Food and retail vendors will be onsite, adding a festival atmosphere to the competition.
More information, including ways to register for the Koocanusa Wakesurfing Challenge, is available by visiting the RMWA website at www.rmwa.ca.