World’s best wakeskaters in town for tour event

Sarnia’s Matthew Mulholland practises wakeskating at Boarder Pass beside the Sarnia Bay Marina. Fifty of the world’s top wakeskater are in Sarnia this weekend for the first ever Canadian stop on the Wakeskate Tour. Competitors wear shoes but no bindings to allow complicated tricks to be done including shoves, grabs and flips. Glenn Ogilvie

At least 50 of the world’s best wakeskaters will be competing on Sarnia’s waterfront this weekend, vying to become the 2014 international champion.

“These guys are the best of the best,” says host Tim Nixon, co-owner of Sarnia Boarder Pass. “They do tricks that defy nature, really cool spins and flips with the board.”

Nixon and business partner Chris Smith have been operating Ontario’s first straight line cable system for wakeboarding and wakeskating in Sarnia Bay since 2010. Boarder Pass is open seasonally beside Sarnia Bay Marina, and has expanded with two other straight-line cable systems in Niagara and Hamilton.

Wakeboarding was the original draw for young watersport enthusiasts, but wakeskating is also starting to take off.

Wakeboarding is like snowboarding, with feet strapped to the board. Wakeskating is akin to skateboarding, with wakeskaters wearing shoes with no bindings to allow more freedom for tricks.

“It’s definitely a spectacle to watch. We expect lots of observers,” said Nixon.

The Wakeskate Tour originates in Florida and has never had a stop in Canada until now. Sarnia is the third of four stops this summer, which ends in Florida where the winner will be announced.

Qualifiers for the Sarnia contest take place at Sarnia Bay Thursday, July 3 and Friday, July 4, culminating in the finals on Saturday. Competitors coming from as far away as Australia, Europe and Thailand will be adjudicated in Sarnia by a panel of judges.

Watching the competition is free. However, $10 tickets are on sale for the awards ceremony and after party that starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Stokes by the Bay.

Nixon said Boarder Pass is preparing for the Wakeskate Tour by cutting back brush on the shoreline and installing bleachers.

“This is a world-class event that has an enormous following in the wakeworld,” he said. “We want to make room for a lot of people.”

For more visit www.boarderpasscanada.com or www.thewakeskatetour.com.

– Cathy Dobson