It's rare in the sport of wakeboarding that you get the opportunity to ride free of any expenses. Fuel, food and equipment all cost money; especially fuel these days! That is unless you were part of a lucky group of wakeboarders during the weekend of August 9-10, 2008 in the great state of New Jersey. It all started out as a simple contest from Wakeboarder.com; submit an idea of how you would spend $500 of Wakeboarder.com's money to go out wakeboarding. For me, this turned into a journey back in time.
Back in 2006 I was hanging-out with my good friend Alex Kinon (organizer of the NJWakefest) talking about putting together a few friends and boarding in two different places in the same day. My idea was simple; start at Alex's riding spot (Turtle Cove) near Long Beach Island, NJ, then midday travel to my house 50 miles south for an evening session at my riding spot (The Horseshoe) in Avalon, NJ. Realizing that each house is in a different county, we called our little plan The Turtle-Shoe Two County Challenge. We set-up some little games, wagers and rules for it, and for the 8 that were involved, it still comes into conversation today as a great and unique memory. As time passed we discussed doing it again, but nothing ever came together, that is until Wakeboarder.com put-up the "Ride On Us" contest in June of this year. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try and make our event happen again. With the potential financial backing of $500, I knew I could finally repeat and improve The Two County Challenge!
I submitted my proposal (see powerpoint) for the new and improved Two County Challenge Part II: Start on the Delaware River in Bordentown on New Jersey's west coast with 2 boats, ride 'til midday, travel 90 miles south-east to the coastal town of Avalon, NJ and ride 'til the sun goes down. Then sleep a few hours, wake-up early and ride again! Round-up and eclectic crew to join the mayhem and see what happens. I didn't really think my idea would be the winning entry, (my submission was just for fun like everyone else's!), but in the back of my mind I couldn't help but think how cool it would be to be to win that cash and plan the bash! But it happened! My idea was chosen and with great excitement the plan was in effect! We set the date of August 9-10.
Day one, Saturday August 9th:
Our first views of the Delaware River were a little disappointing, wind-blown and not quite the butter we usually enjoy. But the Delaware is a winding river and there is always some good water just around the next bend. A mile down river we found our paradise; a three mile stretch of glassy uncrowded water right in front of Pennsbury Manor (the 17th century home of William Penn, from whom Pennsylvania gets its name). So we loaded Alex's Super Air Nautique and John's Malibu VLX with ballast, donned our gear and we tore up the scene! We rafted up from time to time to trade riders and see how the other crew was doing. But like it often happens, time flew by and before we knew it, 1pm had rolled around. Remember the nature of this two-county gig is riding in two distant places in the same day. With our core plan in mind, we packed up and began the trek south! Once we arrived in Avalon we got some food on the grill to satisfy our hunger from a busy morning on the river. Soon after, my friend Matt arrived with his Supra 24SSV and his crew to eat up and join in the conversation. After our break, we packed up my Mastercraft X10 and Matt's Supra for the late-day session.
The evening session in Avalon was picturesque. Riding late day and into the sunset gives you a sense of separation from the real world. It's really something you have to experience and we were living-it-up wakeboarding and wakesurfing into the evening.
Once it got too dark to safely continue, we headed back to my place, ordered from Circle Pizza and feasted on pizza, wings and afternoon left-overs. We conversed, recapping the day and reflecting on our summer of wakeboarding so far. We followed dinner with cigars and a new twist, the game of Washers (Google it!). It wasn't long into the cigars before our ritual shots of tequila started, a tradition that has come to define our group.
Day two, Sunday August 10th:
Sunday started slowly, but some breakfast of Crumbcake, English muffins, OJ (yes, he did it) and coffee helped to get everyone moving. As is the guarantee in life, death and taxes, a strong southerly breeze in Avalon doesn't make for promising conditions. But oh well. "We're doing this, people" I proclaimed and we all climbed back into the boats and headed out. True to nature...the breeze brought the clouds, and the clouds brought the rain about 1 pm. Well, I wouldn't call it rain but more like golf balls sized drops! Within a few minutes of the rain starting we were all soaked. Thank goodness for bimini tops! We decided to call it a day and head back to the house. As we pulled back up to the dock, the rain stopped (Murphy's Law) so we fired up the grill for some lunch and a few more cigars for good measure. It was a great two-days of wakeboarding with friends, all bankrolled and made possible by Wakeboarder.com.
Ever since The Two County Challenge Part 2 I have been re-running the days in my mind. What did this event really mean to me and what was supposed to come from it? In a nutshell it was about wakeboarders being wakeboarders; chillin on the boats, encouraging each other to ride and try new things, enjoying each others company, relaxing with food and drink and creating conversation. The attitude of a wakeboarder sometimes gets a bad rap; people on expensive boats playing loud music and creating big destructive wakes. Having been involved in the sport since the mid 1990's I can tell you the perception is entirely skewed. This event was about people. People brought together because of wakeboarding, a super-fun and very unique sport involving boats and positive attitudes. That is what it was really all about, and doing it without the worry of cash to support it, if only for once!
I am extremely grateful for having been the recipient of this great contest.
Thank you Ed, and Wakeboarder.com.
Kevin Geary (KG)
Special thanks also to all those involved:
Karen Geary, Alex Kinon, Doreen Morris, Connor Morris, Justin Newman, Michele Lef, Jeff Barton, Sean Ingold (Zulu Sean), John Keenan, Stephanie Ward, Ryan Sorensen (San Bar Marina), Keith Wescott (Red Bull), Brian White, Annette White, Anthony White, Matt Kelly, Ron Harris, Megan Flynn