Coverworthy. Nic Harlos. Photo Bos.
By Ryan Doyle
I first met Nic in the summer of 2004 at Wakestock in Wasaga Beach. It was the last year Wakestock was in Wasaga and the first year they did a winch jam. The entire industry heard how fun, innovative and successful Byerly’s first ever Toe Jam was in April of that same year, so when the Projects crew showed up to do the build, it was not surprising that as well as the rail course, wakestock also wished to have a legit wakeskate-only winch jam to further the diversity of its tournament. Little did they know — little did any of us know — someone already had a pool stunt in Wasaga.
Guillaume was the editor of SBC at the time and took BT and I over to jam on this backyard set up just down the river from the site. Nic had just started wakeskating, but his extremely talented snowboard background put him right at home on his pool stunt. That day lead to Nic being invited to compete in the Winch Beach Jam at wakestock, his first pro wakeskate comp, and he and I becoming friends.
The spot and the guys. Photo Bos
Over the years Nic continued to do a lot of winching and even more winch spot scouting. This past summer he took me to a sweet spot in Collingwood, a very popular snowboard rail Nic had been thinking and obsessing about doing on his skate for years. The 13 long-stair, 9 ft drop, 32ft twin hand rail surround by rocks with 3 in of water covering a rocky landing into Georgian Bay did not disappoint. In fact it was the most intimidated I had ever been. After pacing out the pool and up and down the stairs a few times we spent the rest of the day gathering the things we needed to build the start pool.
We woke up early the next morning with the plan being: build the pool, session the rails, get pictures, get footy, and get out before any disgruntled land owners or police officials became aware of our presence. Alija Bos was the photographer for the day and Dan from Red Button showed up about half way through the build. With the anticipation of an epic day coursing through them, they began pulling out there gear, setting up lighting concepts and picking angles in which to best capture the day’s events.
The winch set up. Photo: Bos
Nic and I waded the winch out to our little wooden island we’d set up in the bay on this big rock and fastened it on. As I climbed onto the rickety wooden island and watched Nic walk the rope back to shore and up the stairs, the gravity of the situation set in. Is 3 inches of water on the landing enough? Will the rail stick? And of course the rocks everywhere — waiting to end your life if you give them half chance.
There was just no room for error. The water’s edge was around three feet past the end of the rail so you needed to get the whole rail, every time, to even have a chance at making the landing. After Nic dropped the handle a few times in the start pool I knew these thoughts were in his mind as well, clouding the extreme focus and confidence needed to achieve such a daunting task. Nic’s first few attempts ended with him getting pulled out the front and crashing hard into the shallow landing. Now this many sound funny but the more he crashed the more confident I grew, because I knew on my turn, I wasn’t going to just stick it right away either. It was good to see that the crashes — as long as you made the whole rail — were survivable.
Warning! Photo: Bos
After about 3 maybe or 4 hard crashes, Nic stuck a sketchy layback ride away. Everyone lost it! Amongst the screams and cheers I swear you could feel the crazy energy in the air that you only feel after something magic happens. After a some hugs, a few high fives and the realization that what we where trying to do was possible, Nic grabbed the handle, walked back up to the start dock and dropped his board down. Much like most riders these days Nic is not happy with sketchy layback landings. After a few more goes — Bam! He sticks a cleaner-than-clean boardslide down the left side rail. I was so stoked I pulled him right passed me giving him his full prestige on the ride away. I’m not to sure any other rider on the planet could have got me to hit that rail but in that moment I found all the motivation I needed. He picked up his board reached out the handle to me and said, “I’m kinda tired do you want to go for a bit?”
I laughed and said, “And do what, tie you” ‘Cus there’s no way I’m going to land it cleaner then that.” I’ll spare you another dramatic interpretation of what I went through to land the right side rail but after a few hard crashes and a tweaked knee I to had my prestigious ride away.
Ryan Doyle. Photo: Bos
The footage of this stunt and many more, along with rider’s stories and behind the scene antics will make up the much-anticipated 2010 release of Red Button’s new wakeskate movie, “FOCUS” featuring the best and most diverse wakeskaters on the planet. To get all the info and to check out the teaser go to www.wakeskatefocus.com