The annual Surf, Wakeboard and Waterski Expo went off on September 21st through the 23rd in Orlando, FL. The Expo is a trade show, closed to the general public, for shop owners and distributors to check out all the latest product lines for the up and coming season. In my case, I had no reason to go to Expo other than that I knew it would be a blast. I couldnít have been more correct.
Because Expo is an event of such importance to the companies that provide us our gear, every big name from the wakeboard industry is in town. These names range from pro riders, company representatives, innovators in our sport, and nosy people like my friends and me. But even if you are not lucky enough to get a ticket into the actual event, just being in Orlando for this weekend is well worth the trip. There are parties and gatherings happening constantly all over town that are open for everyone to attend, and most of them have pro riders in attendance.
Seth Martin and I decided late Wednesday afternoon that we would take advantage of some cheap airline tickets and head over to the Sunshine State for a wakeboarding get away. After booking our flights Wednesday night and about two minutes of bragging to our friends, we had Kevin Leblanc also in line to make the journey to Orlando with us. We were to fly out of New Orleans airport Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m.
We arrived in Orlando and within 45 minutes of landing we were getting our full day passes at OWC and were getting ready to get our slide on. Shortly after, I found myself standing in line between Scott Byerly and Chad Sharpe waiting for my turn to jump on the cable. I am always amazed at who I see when I go to OWC, and this time it happened to be some of the innovators presently in our sport. However, I was more amazed at how Seth Martin was handling the sliders. On one of my trips around the slider park, I fell on a 360 off of the pvc kicker on the far side of the lake. While I was swimming to shore, Seth passes by on the neighboring rainbow slider with a sweet nose press almost across the whole thing. I was so stoked at how this dude was booting up to these sliders as if he hits them every day of the week.
Also while we were at OWC, we met up with Wake List members Chris Skinner from Alabama and Dave Gorski from Wisconsin. It was nice to finally meet these guys and put a face to the email address. We all know how cool that is, but this was only the beginning because we had a Wake List dinner planned for later in the evening. But first we had to head over to Expo to meet up with other Wake List members and friends.
The slider session was a blast, but it was time to head over to Expo. Mark and Cathy Kyle of Kyle Promotions greeted us at the entrance with Billy Glenn and a few Expo passes. We only had an hour to walk around the show because it would be closing soon, but we made the best of it. As we walked through the doors to enter the showroom floor, I got that feeling as if I were 5 years old again walking into a Toys-R-Us. This place was absolutely amazing. Every wakeboarding product you could possibly imagine was right there for you to check out and the reps were more than willing to explain every detail of the product. As I mentioned before, we didnít have much time at the actual event, and apparently the reef girls leave the event an hour early. A few things that we were able to check out were the 2002 Hyperlite, Liquid Force and Cassette, and DoubleUP lines. All of these companies had very impressive products. The gear gets better and better each season, but 2002 will definitely have some really cool products on the market. One product that stood out the most to me was something I would never have to buy, but for all you guys that ride in states where a flag is needed when a rider falls, Boss Accessories has the product for you. It is a cylinder that attaches to the tower of your boat and inside is a flag. The flag is deployed by the flip of a switch and it is super quick. Now Iíve never had to use this flag before, but it seemed like it would be really cool. There was also another product that was demonstrated to us and was also a tower accessory. This UFO looking gadget mounted on the top of the tower and was a housing for your rope. It was controlled by a wireless remote and when activated would roll the rope up into the housing in the blink of an eye. With the push of a button, you were able to control the rope length and seemed as if this would be a way to keep those pesky tangles from happening when you are so anxious to ride. So many products were on display, I could go on for hours, but I will try not to bore you with the important stuff and get back to my own personal adventure.
While strolling through expo we ran into Jocko from WAKEtv and shortly after we caught up with Y2Kp owner Ed Harmon. Also while walking out of the doors, we met Jay Lally and crew of Ride on Boardsports. We all jumped on the bus, and headed over to Dan Marinoís restaurant for the Wake List dinner. There we also met Scott and Cara Dickens and Sandy from Glass and Powder Board Shop. It was so cool to be meeting so many new people that I only new from email. We had a great dinner and shared some great stories about wakeboarding experiences and other related topics. We all pretty much agreed that the 2002 product lines were on time and were all stoked at how the companies are coming out with such great equipment. A few people headed their own way after dinner, but most of us stayed together and headed over to the studio of WAKEtv with Jocko for a sneak preview of Issue #11.
For all of you that do not have a subscription to WakeTV, stop reading this and order your subscription now. Issue #11 is off the hook. Jocko did a great job of getting some awesome footage for this new issue. Being able to watch the video with the creator was also a really cool experience. There are so many things that go on in the videos that the normal viewer would never realize unless Jocko was sitting right next to you. We had a great time hanging out at WakeTV with everyone, but it was time to call it a night because we had another long day ahead of us.
Sunday we fell out of bed and headed over to The Wakeboard Camp to meet up with the Kyles again and Billy Glenn for a trip on the lake. The Kyles were fortunate enough that PJ Marks at The Wakeboard Camp let them moor their boat out on the lake all summer because the boat ramps were inaccessible due to the drought in Florida and the low water levels. So we all got to meet up at The Wakeboard Camp to get aboard the Kyleís Nautique. Also among us was a very talented rider by the name of Aaron Reed. Everyone was going off and the riding was amazing, but Aaronís set on the wakeskate was absolutely stunning. It was like watching one of the latest wakeboarding videos from inside the boat. Then he decided to strap on some bindings for the first time in a few months and absolutely blew up. It was so cool hanging with everyone again and watching them all ride and the trip ended with a doubles session with Kevin and Aaron that just blew us all away. These guys totally ripped and were just going trick for trick. As one was landing a trick the other was cutting in to do something just as phat. We were all watching in total amazement. But we cut it short hoping to get one more slider session in at OWC before our departure back to New Orleans. So we said our good byes to our great friends and headed back over to OWC to find some bad weather and a broken cable. We didnít get to ride again that afternoon, but it was still fun hanging out relaxing for a bit after such a busy weekend.
While waiting to board the plane for our ride back home, the Southeast rep from Origin Wakeboards came and sat down right next to us and immediately started talking to us. This guy was obviously tired from a long weekend of hard work, but he didnít hesitate a bit to get into detail about Originís new products for 2002. From our discussion, I was convinced that the Origin gear will be another great addition to the 2002 line of products.
The whole weekend went by so quick and on the plane ride home I couldnít believe that it even happened. There were so many events going on that we didnít even get a chance to attend, and that is the beauty of it. Now we have a good excuse to go back next year. I would like to send thanks to Mark and Cathy Kyle for hooking us up with Expo tickets. I would also like to thank everyone we met for being so cool and a big thanks to Pat McCarthy for giving us a way to make all of this even happen. Once again, Orlando is the place to be during Expo weekend.