Whether you’re a total beginner or gaining confidence with your wakeboarding, the competition scene is where the wakeboarding community all come together to share their passion and have lots of fun. Over the past few years the number of women competing has been slowly increasing which is fantastic to see, from the days where sometimes there wouldn’t be enough ladies to open up a category (sometimes only requiring 3 girls!) to the present where there are separate divisions for Girls, Junior Ladies, Open Ladies and Masters Ladies and now Veteran Ladies! Each year there are more and more women who go from riding every day, to entering their first competition. It’s always so encouraging to see other ladies ride and a great motivator to train with and compete against people of a similar level to you. So here’s our guide to entering and getting prepared for a competition.
“The first time I thought it would be really serious and competitive, but all the other girls were just as nervous, so you all support and encourage each other, and so get to know each other better and have a laugh about it.” Liu Batchelor
Competing is a really great way to meet other riders from around the country, and even the world. They’re a good opportunity to get ideas about new tricks to learn from other riders and to ask for advice if you are struggling to learn certain moves. You can pick up a lot from other riders by seeing them perform out on the water, and then in turn, give yourself a motivational kick or an inspirational leap.
Competitions are also a good opportunity for potential sponsors to do a bit of talent spotting as well, so if you’ve got what it takes, competitions will let everyone else know too and help you take your riding to the next level.
Types of Competitions
There are competitions of varying degrees of intensity receiving mixed levels of attention throughout the wakeboard season (usually between April and October in the UK) from local club competitions to National and International events.
Club Competitions – the entry level club comps are the best way to ease yourself into the competition circuit. Within the comfortable fun family atmosphere of your local club, there’s no pressure, just fun, as it always should be! Usually there’s a simple entry fee to cover costs. Some clubs have evolved their competitions into mini tour stops with overall tour titles up for grabs helping you build confidence throughout the year.
National Competitions – both Boat and Cable disciplines will culminate in National competitions attracting riders from all over the country and International athletes as well. The only real difference with the club and national events is that the Nationals have a larger ‘Pro’ division and across the board the standard of finalists tends to be higher. But that’s no reason to not enter. Everyone deserves to enter and can enter. Winning an amateur division is just as prestigious as a Pro division, after all you will be the best in the Country. Pro or not, that’s worth entering for.
So once you’ve filled out your application form and sent off your entry fee (check that you will be allowed to enter on the day if you haven’t done this. Some competitions may carry a greater ‘late entry fee’) then you’re ready to get to the comp and discover the fun world of competing.
“I enter my first comp in amateur a few month after I start riding because my friends push me to do it.. i was very nervous at first but in the end i had fun. I think is important to be familiar with comps from the beginning because all that experience can help you in a future if u decide to do the sport professionally.” Robbie Rendo
What to expect at a Competition?
Before a competition starts, all riders will be gathered together for a ‘riders briefing’ and have the basic rules of the day’s competition explained. This is your opportunity to ask any questions of anything you’re not sure about. They’ll tell you where the beginning and end of the course will be scored from, what judging criteria they’re looking for and what order the categories will run.
Make sure you’re changed, warmed up and ready for your division in plenty of time. It’s not the best way to ride well if you’re sprinting to the dock still putting your wetsuit on!
All competitions run differently. There are different ‘heat’ systems in place for different divisions, usually based on volume of entrants. Smaller divisions may have a semi final made up of two heats for example, where the top 3 from each automatically go through to the final. Sometimes those finishing at the bottom of their round may be offered a last chance qualifier (LCQ). Here the final few fight it out and maybe 1 of the remaining 3 will go through to the next round. Larger divisions may adopt a quarter, semi and then final system where the top 3 or 4 move to the next round. Be aware that in some competitions, a division will not run if there are an insufficient number of entrants. In this case, you will most likely be added to the next closest division.
by Sarah Kingdom and Nicole Freeman
“If it wasn’t for those girls I saw riding in a contest all those years ago, I wouldn’t have been inspired to enter one myself, and would probably not be where I am today! As well as being great fun and definitely a good way to get respect from the guys, its important to keep the flame burning for women’s wakeboarding!” Jules Haley