When we last left our legion of lateral line riders we were bidding our goodbyes to the sweet land of tropical winch gaps, also known as Fort Lauderdale. It was a quick drive to the highway until we could start our sunset descent on Fort Myers. This voyage across Alligator Alley along the side of Big Cypress Swamp was one of my favorite drives of the trip and a true taste of what Florida natural beauty is all about. Getting the opportunity to see different parts of this land I call home was undoubtedly one of the best things about this whole journey. Upon arrival in Fort Myers we were greeted by our host, the one and only Matt Engle. Matt holds down the 239 area code pretty heavy, and is always more than happy to show us around the scene in Fort Myers. We started searching Google Earth for any and all gaps that were waiting for us to shred, and found about five that were within minutes from Engle’s place.
The next day we got going early with the gap searching. We did find gaps, but unfortunately they were nearly all unhittable, either due to low water levels or sketchy landings. Not to worry though, luckily for us Engle lives on an awesome private lake with perfect rails all over it, so we retired to the pad and made some movie magic on Lake Vista. That night we got a lead from Ben Caruso on a gap he spotted driving back to Bradenton. We got going towards the gap early in the morning, and after about an hour drive pulled up to it. Everything about the thing was perfect; it was a simple drop of about four feet with plenty of take off and landing. It didn’t take long to become dangerously clear to us that this was gator country, and there was no way to get the rope out without swimming straight out into the abyss of deep, murky water and bobbing gator heads. Not a very pleasant thought. So after searching around town for a canoe or tube of some kind and coming up with no luck, we decided to cut our losses and head back to Engle’s for some riding at the new Fort Myers cable park, which hadn’t even been opened to the public yet. It was undoubtedly one of the most fun times I’ve had at a cable park ever, and a good break to let us all dork around after a couple long days. We packed our bags and began the sunset drive to Anna Maria Island for the third leg of our tour.
The beautiful island that Nick Taylor calls home is always a treat to play on. I’m pretty sure the weather is never anything but clear and sunny and the water is always perfect, definitely intriguing to the film/photography type. So early in the morning we got two Sea Doos out to Nick’s top secret rail spot that everybody knows about and started having a blast.
Nick was right at home in the saltwater and started getting straight up rowdy with some epic switch lines and perfect board control. He’s got some tricky maneuvers up his sleeve that will make you do a double take (check out his “body bigspin” in the Fun Boots! teaser). This probably ended up being some of the best footage we got from the trip, and some of the best in the video. Andrew got down on some island style and stomped a varial heelflip on film. Ben was definitely feeling the vibe, but decided to take it to the flatrail instead, and that he did. I was starting to think Ben may be the steeziest wakeskater alive after the slew of locked in rail tricks he put down, including noseslides and tailslides from all different directions. He started doing these crazy combination tricks on the rail, popping from front and back boards into 5-0s and fakie nosegrinds, blowing all of our minds in the process. Seeing stuff like this was what made the trip for me: new possibilities on a wakeskate.
I think most people could agree that wakeskating has been at a turning point ever since it became important to do your tricks on more than just flat water. Into a new land we are pushed, demanding our imagination to govern what we believe is possible and just how far wakeskating can go. With things like this happening it seems that our beloved sport is not going to be getting old anytime soon. Anna Maria was fun, and we are always happy to spent some time there. But there was business to be done and big promise lying ahead of us in the near future, and so to St. Petersburg we went.