In preparation for today’s and Saturday’s events, some of the competitors took to the water to test out their best tricks Thursday afternoon.
With stops in North Carolina, California, Washington and Michigan, each of the athletes said the event in Acworth usually boasts the highest attendance of all eight competitions.
Jackson native Brandon Lee, a Kennesaw State University graduate who is competing for the fifth time in the Pro Men’s division, said the Acworth event has grown over the last seven years.
“It’s kind of become a destination event,” Lee said.
Both Lee, who runs a company with his brother that gives wakeboard lessons to people throughout Georgia, and Josh Palma, a Pro Men’s competitor from Orlando, are sponsored by Kennesaw-based Ambush Boarding Co., one of the largest wakeboarding retailers in the world.
Returning fans and those who have never been to a wakeboarding event can expect big tricks and a tight competition, Lee said.
Over the last couple of years, better boats and better technology have allowed riders to perform previously impossible tricks.
“The riding level has never been as high as it is this year,” Lee said.
Palma, who has been on the tour since 2006, said he enjoys coming back to Acworth each year because the event gets a pretty big draw from Atlanta fans.
“Each year, we usually mix up the stops but Atlanta seems to always stay on the map,” he said. “A lot of it’s because we have such a great relationship with the city of Acworth.”
Riders didn’t seem to think the change of locations from Dallas Landing to Cauble Park would affect turnout.
“The water conditions here (on Lake Acworth) are a lot better,” Lee said. “The cons are obviously that people that have rented boats and house boats can’t be out on the water, but it makes the riding conditions a lot better. People can still watch from the beach.”
Rusty Malinoski, another Orlando resident and eight-year Pro Men’s competitor, attempted a few tries at a wrapped heelside 900, a cut towards the wake that took him rotating two-and-a-half times over the water. After falling twice, Malinoski realized his board was split down the side.
Malinoski, recognized as the first wakeboarder to complete a 1080 in a competition, said it’s all in a day’s work and adjustments like that are the reason why the athletes prepare a day in advance.
“(My goal) is to try everything as big as possible, clean,” he said. “All the work’s done now, we just have to do it.”
The event today is free and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost of admission to Saturday’s events is $13 for adults and $5 for children and will run from 12 to 7 p.m.
Parking is available in downtown Acworth.