The LSF tradition lived on in 2002 and Wakeboarder.com was there once again enjoying a wonderful weekend of riding and meeting a ton of cool people in Louisiana. In 2002, big changes were made to the event that made it look different on the outside, but the heart and reason behind the event stayed exactly the same. Jeff Southworth and his family worked especially hard this year to make sure that LSF would not only be alive again, but the biggest and best LSF ever. As for me and my experience at LSF 2002, this definitely held true.
I arrived at the Southworth’s house late Tuesday night along with other Krookedminds riders to prepare for almost a week of LSF adventure. Wednesday morning came early and the work began preparing the site for LSF 2002 visitors. We picked up some RV’s, boats, a kicker ramp and an Easy Dock and headed down to our new home for a week to get to work. We were determined to get done quickly and by 3:00 that afternoon we officially kicked off the riding at LSF 2002. Throughout the day, many of the vendors arrived and started setting up their displays. By the end of the day, Lazarre Point in West Monroe, LA looked like a wakeboarders dream. Correct Craft and MasterCraft rolled in early with huge tents and some beautiful boats for everyone to drool on. Hyperlite, Core, Ski Reel and others also started setting up shop getting ready for the invasion of wakeboarders to hit LA. By now the riding had started, the sponsors and vendors were getting things together and the crowd started rolling in. The only thing not going our way was the weather.
Thursday morning we woke up to a cool, crisp, windy morning that kind of put a damper on the LSF vibe. We were expecting to kick off the first of two demo days by 9:00 a.m., but people were not too excited to get in the water yet. A little closer to noon, a few boats started to hit the water and then everyone was catching the fever to ride. Hyperlite and Core were both filling up their list of demo rides for the day. The demos were done differently this year and it was a huge success. In the past, boards would be sent out on people’s boats that wanted to demo some new gear. This year we designated two boats for those wanting to take demo rides. This not only helped the reps keep their product together, but it forced others to have to ride together. I was lucky enough to head up one of the demo boats and had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people. It was a great experience to be in a boat full of people that just met each other and hear them all holler and yell for the rider trying out a new ride. Everyone was so stoked to be there and the party was just beginning.
Friday morning brought more cold weather, but that didn’t stop the crowd from pouring in. It once again kept people out of the water for longer than we would have expected, but we decided to drop the kicker in the water and set the tempo for the day. Hyperlite’s pimped out X-Star took to the water again loaded to the max with people taking demo rides and I jumped behind the wheel of the VLX to start pulling people over the kicker. It didn’t take long for others to get the itch to ride as the river started filling up quickly with the most awesome wakeboarding boats I have ever seen. At that moment, I could only think about the first LSF I attended and how awesome it was just to see a few boats there with towers on them. This year I could only sit back and admire the boats that were passing us on the river. Every place I looked there was either a X-Star, a Super Air Team Edition, a VLX or any other kind of wakeboarding boat you could possibly imagine completely loaded out. A lot more people were coming in on Friday and things really started to heat up, unfortunately it wasn’t from the sun. Boats full of people were passing by, the site was filling up quickly with tents and RV’s, camera crews were hopping from boat to boat to film all the rippers that were out there and the list for the demo rides was getting longer and longer.
As the night came, I ran to grab a shower and a bite to eat and stopped by Gus Cambell’s Watersports to check out Liquid Force’s Trip across America and MasterCraft’s newest pro rider Leslie Kent. Unfortunately, Shane Bonifay did not get to make the trip to LSF, but Shawn Watson and a few other LF regional riders were in attendance. The Liquid Force crew and Leslie Kent were all really cool and it was great to see them at an event such as LSF. I heard stories from some that got to have dinner with Leslie Kent and others who had the opportunity to hang out with Watson and the gang at the event site.
Upon returning to the site, it was still packed. There were camp fires every place I looked with large groups of people just kicking back and hanging out. I have never experienced this side of LSF because at previous events when night fell, everyone headed back to their hotels and then out to a local night club or bar. This year everyone seemed to stick around the site and enjoy the atmosphere. We walked around Lazarre Point from campfire to campfire meeting everyone we possibly could and then settled down to a campfire of our own with all the Krookedminds crew and the guys from Core Wakeboards and Recent Clothing. Many others were going from fire to fire introducing themselves and hanging out with everyone. The vibe was unbelievable and everyone was soaking it in. Later on that night as the fire started to burn down and people started to turn in, we were attacked by the Great White Raptor. It was a very scary experience and I am just glad I lived to tell about it.
Saturday finally brought some better weather and an even bigger crowd. Everyone was on site ready to ride and see the $2000.00 cash prize double up contest. After helping Ed Harmon of Y2Kp unload all of his gear and finally talking to Pat about the birth of his new daughter, the Ladies Boats took to the water and I was able to sneak a set in with a long time LSF friend Jeff Stehpens. As an added bonus, the designers of a new tower speaker system were on board with their set up and allowed me to be the first ever to test it out on the water. The speakers interact with the rider a little more than the normal speaker set up, so it was great to try out their new product. We hurried back to make it in time for the contest in which I was participating in. A wall of boats lined the shore and almost 30 riders waited patiently for their chance to walk away $2000.00 richer. The wind kicked up horribly before the contest; which made it even more challenging for the riders.
The riding was great in the contest, but I could tell that the conditions were giving a lot of the riders trouble. In the end the judges came to a four-way tie for first place and did not know how they would decide who actually won. So they talked to all four of the guys and everyone agreed to split the $2000.00 prize four ways. The final results left Jeremy Baker, Shawn Watson, Brian McBribe and Justin Neitz walking away with some extra cash. The annual LSF raffle followed the double up contest and a large number of people won great prizes from the LSF sponsors. Jeff Southworth had a ton of stuff to give away to all the wakeboarders attending LSF 2002. As night approached us, the live band was rocking some tunes and everyone was again just hanging out at the site enjoying their last night of LSF festivities. I saw many people saying their goodbyes almost in tears as they prepared to depart from their newly made friendships. As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning, people were packing up their gear and most of the vendors had their displays put away ready to get back on the road.
Only a handful of boats were on the water Sunday morning and the crowd was growing thinner by the hour. We finished cleaning up the site and packing up with talks of how to make an even better event for 2003. Overall, LSF was a complete success and could not have gone any smoother. New friendships were made, riding tips were shared, new gear was purchased and a new LSF site was born. There is nothing better than hundreds of hard-core wakeboarders ripping it up in your home state for a weekend. I can not wait for LSF 2003.