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Team Hyperlite Defends Their Title at 2nd Annual Malibu Pro Team Challenge
 
Press Release
Date: 08-26-2008

EATONVILLE, WA. (August 21, 2008) The weather was perfect, the water conditions were epic and the riding was insane…needless to say, the 2nd Annual Malibu Pro Team Challenge was one of the most fun pro wakeboard events of the year! It all took place August 16th and 17th at the Silver Lake Resort in Eatonville, Washington. According to NW resident, Mikey Ennen, this was the first pro wakeboard event in Washington since 1997. The site, located about midway between Portland and Seattle in the shadow of Mount Rainier, provided a classic Pacific Northwest backdrop for this unique team event that featured some of the top pro riders in the world battling it out for a $25,000 purse.

The competition included three separate disciplines - a traditional boat competition, a big air double-up contest and a pool-to-lake rail jam. Teams from Hyperlite Wakeboards, Gator Boards, Liquid Force Wakeboards and Ronix Wakeboards were all on hand to ride, hang-out with their Northwest fans and tell stories around the campfire. Despite the substantial cash purse, the vibe was relaxed and the entire weekend was like one big happy camping trip!

The action started at 12 noon on Saturday with the Malibu Boat Competition. The first round included three heats of four (one rider from each team), and the top two would advance to the six man finals. Each rider would get two passes in the semis. Heat #1 featured Team Hyperlites Jimmy LaRiche, Erik "Gator" Lutgert, Bob Soven representing for Liquid Force and Ronix owner/rider Chad Sharpe. It was the two youngsters - Soven and LaRiche - who would move on. Heat #2 included Northwest legend and Gator OG David Isaacson, Hyperlite's hard charging Aaron Rathy, another Northwest rider and LF pro Mikey Ennen and Ronix young gun Adam Errington. Again, it was the young guns - Rathy and Errington - that would move on to the finals. The final semi-final heat pitted Ronix rider and four time X-Games champion Danny Harf, riding in only his second contest of the year following rehab from a herniated disc. Danny would take on Hyperlite's JD Webb, Gator Boards' AJ Racinelli and Kevin Henshaw representing for Liquid Force. Webb took top honors in the heat giving Hyperlite the distinct advantage of having three team members move on. He would be joined in the finals by Harf, the second Ronix member to move on and Liquid Force's finals hopes would be riding on their youngest competitor, Bob Soven.

In the finals, each rider would get two passes and a double-up at the end of their run. They were seeded based on their scores from round one and Danny Harf was first of the dock. He fell twice and then again on the double-up leaving him in the sixth position. Next up was his Ronix teammate Adam Errington who went big but also had a fall in his run and failed to stick the double-up placing himself in fifth. Hyperlite's Jimmie LaRiche went third and finished third giving Hyperlite some important points. JD Webb added to the Hyperlite point total with a second place finish and Aaron Rathy killed it in his run
and sealed the deal with a huge TS BS off-axis 720 on the double-up and completed the sweep for Team Hyperlite in the boat competition. Liquid Forces's Robert Soven finished just out of the points in fourth place. At the end of the first discipline of the weekend, defending champions Team Hyperlite had a commanding lead in the overall points with 110pts followed by Ronix with 45pts, Liquid Force with 40pts and Gator with 15pts.

Next up was the Monster Energy Rail Jam. The crew from Step Up Productions made the trip from Orlando to build the set-up which included a 12' x 60' starting pool and two rails including a 50' long step-up a-frame and a 16' incline gap to a 40' Monster down rail. Once again, there were three heats featuring a rider from each team. Heat #1 featured Jimmie LaRiche, Kevin Henshaw, AJ Racinelli and Danny Harf. After a couple of practice runs to get things dialed in, each rider had three attempts to throw down their best trick. LaRiche stomped a sick switch back board, 180 over the gap and front board to 90 on the a-frame which pushed him on to the semi-finals. He was joined by Kevin Henshaw who laid down a stylish BB to nose press on the 40" Monster Energy Rail. Heat #2 included Adam Errington, Erik Ruck, Mike Ennen and AJ Racinelli (the only Gator rider in the rail jam). Racinelli moved to the semis on his second attempt and would be joined by Errington. Chad Sharpe, JD Webb and Bob Soven made up Heat #3. Sharpe and Soven would advance to Sunday's head-to-head semi-final and a shot at making it to the three man finals.

At the end of day one, everyone enjoyed a killer sunset on the buttery surface of Silver Lake before heading to their respective cabins, rv's and/or campsites to enjoy burgers, hot dogs, brats and cold drinks while revisiting the day's activities on the water. The crew from Bakes Marine laid out a tasty fried chicken feast and the crew from evo were cooking up whatever you brought to the grill. Local brewery, Pyramid Beer, provided frosty delights in the Bakes Marine / evo gear VIP garden. As the evening wore on, the sound of IPod boom boxes and campfire sing-a-longs filled the air. It was a great vibe and nobody wanted to leave the remote sight to head back to town, so somehow, everyone found a place to settle in for the night.

On Sunday, the conditions remained perfect as the riders headed to the starting dock for the double-up contest. The format remained the same…three heats of four, top two advancing to the semis. First crew off the dock would be Henshaw, Errington, Ruck and Racinelli. Henshaw's clean heel side BS 720 was enough to advance. Ruck joined him with a HUGE melon roll-to-revert. Heat #2 featured Chad Sharpe, Bob Soven, Jimmie LaRiche and, still holding it down for Team Gator, AJ Racinelli. LaRiche advanced but the judges could not come to a decision between Sharpe and Soven. After much deliberation, the tournament director decided to have them settle it on the water so both riders grabbed their gear and headed back to the starting dock. The order was decided with a coin flip which Sharpe won and opted to go second. Soven charged it hard with two attempts at a heel 900. Both were big, but he failed to hang on to either which opened the door for Sharpe. Two secure his spot in the semi-finals, Sharpe stomped a huge Indy glide. Then, he came back and gave the fans a treat attempting the double Back-roll, but he came up short. Danny Harf and Mike Ennen took out JD Webb and Racinelli in the third heat.

The double-up semi-finals would feature head-to-head battles between the two riders that advanced from each heat in round #1. In the first semi-final heat, Ruck thrilled the crowd with a stylish mute mobe, but Henshaw's grabbed HS BS 700 got him the win and a spot in the three man finals. Next up was LaRiche and Sharpe. Jimmy laid down the same HUGE switch heel 900 that earned him $20,000 at BroStock to advance. Danny Harf rounded out the finals line-up with a sick grabbed TS Blind off-axis 720. The original plan at this point in the competition was to head back to the rail jam for the semi-final and final rounds and then end the day with the d-up finals. But, thanks to Paul O'Brien and the guys from Ronix, a helicopter was made available for the Alliance film crew to shoot the d-up finals. The pilot was on a tight schedule so we kept the huge double-ups behind the Northwest Riders Malibu 23LSV rolling. Liquid Force's Henshaw was the first rider in the finals and after two falls on HS BS 720 attempts, he would settle for 3rd place. LaRiche once again stomped his bread-and butter heel 900 for another Hyperlite 2nd place finish and it was Danny Harf who would give Ronix the double-up win stomping the same huge grabbed TS BS off-axis 720 that got him to the finals.

The win by Harf helped Team Ronix close the gap with defending champions, Hyperlite. Following the double-up portion of the competition, it was Hyperlite in 1st place with 175pts, Ronix in 2nd place with 120pts, Liquid Force in 3rd with 90pts and Team Gator (AJ Racinelli) holding down 4th place with 30 pts.

The rail jam semi-finals featured three head-to-head heats. Hyperlite, and Gator each had one rider in the final six, Liquid Force and Ronix each had two. The door was still open for Team Ronix to knock off last year's champions if Adam Errington and Chad Sharpe could advance to the finals and finish one-two. Heat #1 pitted LF rail-master, Kevin Henshaw against Hyperlite's Jimmie LaRiche. Each would get three attempts to land their best trick. LaRiche continued his strong showing moving on to the finals. Heat #2 featured the two young stylemeisters, Adam Errington and AJ Racinelli - advantage Racinelli. And in their second head-to-head battle of the day, Bob Soven knocked out Chad Sharpe in the 3rd and final semi-final heat. This put an end to Ronix chance at the win, but set-up an exciting three man final between the young guns from Gator Boards, Hyperlite and Liquid Force. AJ Racinelli kept the crowd on their feet throughout the rail jam comp with a series of super stylie, tweaked out rail slides and jibs and when it was all said and done, Team Gator would take 3rd place. Bob Soven continued to kill it on the rails giving LF the 2nd place spot in the rail jam and Mr. Consistent; Jimmy LaRiche, took the rail jam win for Team Hyperlite.

After two days of fun, sun, beautiful scenery, killer conditions and insane riding, the 2nd Annual Malibu Pro Team Challenge was a wrap. Congratulations to 2008 Champions, Team Hypelite, who backed up last year's win with a repeat performance. They retain the Malibu Cup and the names of Erik Ruck, Aaron Rathy, Jimmy LaRiche, JD Webb and Jacob Valdez will be added to the base. They will also split the $24,000 "winner-take-all" purse! With a great all-around performance from PWT Junior Men's Champion, Jimmy LaRiche (110 individual points), Hyperlite ended up with a total of 240 points. Teams Liquid Force and Ronix tied for 2nd overall with 155 point each and Team Gator took 3rd with 75 points. For his strong showing in the boat comp (made finals), double-up (2nd place) and rail jam (1st place), Jimmy LaRiche cemented his spot as the Indmar Top Performer of the weekend. For his efforts, he received a check for $1000! Danny Harf and Bob Soven tied for second with 80 points each.


Special thanks to all of the sponsors who helped make this event a success. First and foremost, our Title sponsor Malibu Boats who make the best boats with the biggest wakes in the business. Thanks also to our rail jam sponsor Monster Energy Drink who made sure everyone stayed energized throughout the weekend, the participating board companies - Hyperlite, Liquid Force, Gator Boards* and Ronix - who put up the killer purse and who sent their teams out to compete (this event could not happen without them), Indmar Marine Engines who once again padded the overall purse, powered the Malibu tow boat that pulled the event and provided the $1000 Indmar Performance Award, evo gear who helped us promote the event in the market, lined up the free beer (essential) for the after-parties and represented all of the participating board companies on-site, local Malibu Dealer - Bakes Marine who helped promote the event and hosted the VIP area (including feeding us all on Saturday afternoon), Northwest Riders Clothing whose beautiful, wrapped Malibu 23LSV pulled the event, our judges Sean Kilgus, Eric Sund and Matt V (with help from Blake Vilders), announcer extraordinaire - the Noise from the North - Dano the Mano, Chad Sharpe for holding down the driving duties (when he wasn't slaying it on the water) the boys from local band - Mom's Rocket - who provided some live entertainment and to Rick Stock and his crew from the INT League for helping us set-up the event, run the event and tear it all down when it was over! Props also have to go to Jim, Cheryl, Will, Jeff, Dee, Jason, Ben, Stephanie and James at the Silver Lake resort for not only providing a great location, but for all their help in on-site to insure that we pulled it off.

Thanks also to our media partners Alliance Wakeboard Magazine, Alliance Multi-Media, FUEL TV, Wakeworld.com, WakeboardNorthwest.com, The Seattle Weekly and 107.7FM The End radio station.

Important Note: Due to circumstances beyond their control, Gator Boards had every legitimate reason to pull out of the Pro team Challenge at the last minute…they had no team to compete!! Randall Harris had just announced his departure from the team to pursue a new opportunity, Mark Weikel was on the injured reserve list with a shoulder injury, Ricky G's wife is nine months pregnant and about to give birth to his second child (at any minute) and Kyle Rattray was already committed to attend the Canadian Nationals on the same weekend. To top it all off, Team Owner Erik "Gator" Lutgert was on vacation with his family in Ireland! Despite these challenges, Team Gator found a way to make it happen. Riding on the shoulders of the Team's youngest competitor, AJ Racinelli, and with a little help from two Gator OG's - Erik Lutgert and David Isaacson, Team Gator Boards truly lived up to their motto - Fully Committed! Thanks guys…I owe you one! - Bill Geiger




Malibu Pro Team Challenge
Round-by-Round Results


Malibu Boat Competition / Semi-Finals (3 Heats of 4 - top 2 advance)
Heat #1
1. Robert Soven - Liquid Force
2. Jimmy Lariche - Hyperlite

3. Erik Lutgert - Gator Boards
4. Chad Sharpe - Ronix

Heat #2
1. Aaron Rathy - Hyperlite
2. Adam Errington - Ronix

3. Mike Ennen - Liquid Force
4. David Isaacson - Gator Boards

Heat #3
1. JD Webb - Hyperlite
2. Danny Harf - Ronix

3. Kevin Henshaw - Liquid Force
4. AJ Racinelli - Gator Boards

Malibu Boat Competition / Finals
1st Place - Aaron Rathy - Team Hyperlite
2nd Place - JD Webb - Team Hyperlite
3rd Place - Jimmy LaRiche - Team Hyperlite

4th - Robert Soven - Team Liquid Force
5th - Adam Errington - Team Ronix
6th - Danny Harf - Team Ronix

Double-Up Comp / Round #1 (3 Heats of 4 – top 2 advance)
Heat #1
1. Kevin Henshaw - Liquid Force
2. Erik Ruck - Hyperlite

3. Adam Errington - Ronix
4. AJ Racinelli - Gator Boards

Heat #2
1. Jimmy LaRiche - Hyperlite
2. Chad Sharpe - Ronix

3. Robert Soven - Liquid Force
4. AJ Racinelli - Gator Boards

Heat #3
1. Danny Harf - Ronix
2. Mike Ennen - Liquid Force

3. JD Webb - Hyperlite
4. AJ Racinelli - Gator Boards


Double-Up Comp / Semi-Finals (Head-to-Head / Winner advances to 3 man final)
Heat #1
1. Kevin Henshaw - Liquid Force
2. Erik Ruck - Hyperkite

Heat #2
1. Jimmy LaRiche - Hyperlite
2. Chad Sharpe - Ronix

Heat #3
1. Danny Harf - Ronix
2. Mike Ennen - Liquid Force

Double-Up Comp / Finals
1st Place - Danny Harf - Team Ronix
2nd Place - Jimmy LaRiche - Team Hyperlite
3rd Place - Kevin Henshaw - Team Liquid Force


Monster Energy Rail Jam Comp / Round #1 (3 Heats of 4 - top 2 advance)
Heat #1
1. Jimmy LaRiche - Hyperlite
2. Kevin Henshaw - Liquid Force

3. Danny Harf - Ronix
4. AJ Racinelli - Gator Boards

Heat #2
1. AJ Racinelli - Gator Boards
2. Adam Errington - Ronix

4. Erik Ruck - Hyperlite
4. Mike Ennen - Liquid Force

Heat #3
1. Chad Sharpe - Ronix
2. Robert Soven - Liquid Force

3. JD Webb - Hyperlite

Monster Energy Rail Jam / Semi-Finals (Head-to-Head / Winner advances to 3 man final)
Heat #1
1. Jimmy LaRiche - Hyperlite
2. Kevin Henshaw - Liquid Force

Heat #2
1. AJ Racinelli - Gator Boards
2. Adam Errington - Ronix

Heat #3
1. Robert Soven - Liquid Force
2. Chad Sharpe - Ronix

Monster Energy Rail Jam Comp / Finals
1st Place - Jimmy LaRiche - Team Hyperlite
2nd Place - Robert Soven - Team Liquid Force
3rd Place - AJ Racinelli - Team Gator Boards



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