Over 150 amateur and professional wakeboarders attended this year’s Canadian Wake Championships at Valley Wake Park (in Albert Dyck Park) this past weekend.
And despite some initial concern over lower water levels, the competition was unaffected, according to organizer James Balzer, who also claimed top prize at the competition for the eighth time.
“This is the last event of the summer wakeboarders are working towards,” said Balzer. “There were a lot of quality boarders from amateurs to pros.”
Balzer estimated upwards of 200 spectators came out to watch the competitions held Friday through Sunday, which included U9 boys and girls to men’s and women’s amateur and pro divisions.
Thirteen-year-old Rip Curl BC Wake Team member Hunter Smith from Deep Cove said this was one of the best organized events he has attended.
“At some points they were running ahead of schedule,” said Smith, who won the Boys 10-13 division in the cable category.
Rip Curl teammate and fellow Deep Cove resident Michela Phillips, 20, said, “It was a fun weekend with a lot of people … and a beautiful site.”
She also said the event ran “really smooth,” explaining this kind of competition usually operates at a slower pace. Phillips won her amateur women’s division, which qualified her for the pro event Sunday, where she placed fourth.
This year’s nationals boasted more cable riders, which is a newer version of the sport, rather than typical boat-tailing. Traditionally, the trend at nationals is opposite; however, the popularity of cable riding has surged in the last few years.
In all, there were around 80 or so cable riders at this year’s event, said Balzer.
Abbotsford wakeboarder Dan Dyck, a 15-year veteran of the sport, also took part in the competition, placing fifth in the amateur Men’s 1 division.
Dyck said it was great to see the number of competitors, as participant levels overall, from his estimation, has decreased in recent years.
But with a cable park in Abbotsford, local access to the sport has never been better. This may have contributed to the higher numbers of local spectators as well as competitors at the Wake Championships.
“The opportunity has never been better to join in [the sport] than now,” said Dyck. “Cable provides easy access because you don’t need a boat, you just need a board.”
The park attracts enthusiasts and professional competitors from out of town.
Keaton Roper of Winfield, B.C., who placed third in the Men’s 1 division, and Nick Dorsey of Vernon, who finished second in the Men’s Pro division, both “couch surf” in Abbotsford with Balzer to remain in close proximity to the lake.
“Valley Wake Park is just such an amazing location,” Balzer said. “Next year’s Canadian Nationals will be held there again, the date just has to be set.”
Up next for Balzer, 2015’s Canadian WakeSkate and Straightline champion, is the World Wakeboaridng Association’s Supra Wakeboard championships in Portugal, Sept. 16-19.