ThinkTank Rail Jam
For the past four years, we at Alliance UK have tried our hardest to support the wakeskate scene in Great Britain though both editorial content and creating the only wakeskate event in the country, Harbour Project. After running out of new things to do within the harbour stream behind our welsh office, we decided to move on from the Harbour Project to create a new event aimed at really pushing the boundaries of wakeskating on our shores, and we call it ThinkTank.
The concept was is to bring together the wakeskate community to ride together in a relaxed atmosphere, where the riders can concentrate on pushing themselves and doing the tricks they want to do rather than performing for a crowd. Through out the weekend there were some running contests over the 3 days of freeriding, including best line and best trick towed by the Yamaha Waverunners, and best trick jams on the new winch pool, modelled around a street skate spot with stairs, hubba ledge, handrail and a gap to the bottom.
Held at what was a secret location prior to the event, Grendon Lakes in Northampton provided a site with a perfect little bowl at the corner of their lake, where we could easily build a good pool gap on the bank going into the lake. After four solid days working we had constructed something to be proud of.
Over the next three days the jet-ski rails and stair gap got a pounding, with riding going on from dawn to dusk each day. We had some mini-contests running throughout the three days, including Best Line and Best Rail Rider behind the Waverunners, and Best Gap and Best Rail on the stair-set. When it came to the jet-ski riding, there was one guy who’s effortless riding style and ability to link long lines without getting wet, stood him apart from all the others. Northern Monkey, Lee Warren absolutely destroyed the best line comp with 5 tricks back to back in a manner that looked like a skateboarder flowing down a hill popping off everything in sight. Meanwhile 18-year old Taylor Dell from Thorpe made light work of the Incline and Flat rails riding a 20 minute set with only 3 falls, and sticking every which way of lipslide and boardslide with shuvs, 90’s and 270’s out of both and a killer boardslide to fs 360 on the Incline.
Back at the stairs everyone was trying to get something special over the 5-foot drop. Craig McCulloch ollie’d the gap first try as if he had one in his garden, while Liam Smith, Ian Calvert, Terry Hannam, Matt Crowhurst and Nick Hine all made the drop and started throwing shuvs and fs & bs 180’s. While they all did great, nobody could deny that Terry Hannam’s frontside 180 over the hubba ledge was the best thing to go down, winning him Best Gap.
For the Best Rail award, there was no contest. While all the riders threw down with their best efforts and some crazy tech tricks were stuck off the platform and hubba, it was Craig McCulloch and a flawless frontside boardslide on the handrail that got everyone on site screaming.
The final award of the weekend was the Nike6.0 ‘Killing It’ award, a prize that went to a rider who may not have been the best guy there, but who’s raw skateboard-style riding was above everyone else’s and the tricks he threw were as legit as they come. Bournemouth based winch skater Liam Smith really impressed me with his outlook on wakeskating, the way he does his tricks and the huge pop with everything he does. While others may have been safer with the height of ollie’s and tricks down the gap, Liam was throwing shuvs 3-feet high out of the pool covering a distance of over 20 feet before landing. For his efforts Liam will receive a years supply of Nike6.0 shoes.
Overall ThinkTank was a huge success. The riders were beyond stoked on the setup and everyone had fun hanging out and riding with each other in a relaxed setting where they could push each other for the good of the sport. With the ‘test run’ over with we are now planning to take ThinkTank a step further next year, opening the site to the public to come and hang out while watching the UK’s best wakeskaters doing the sport in the way it should be done.
Huge thanks go to O’Neill, Nike, Yamaha, Suso and Goodwood Wakeskates for backing wakeskating and helping the weekend happen. Also to Grendon Lakes, Wake Academy and Jim Sedgewick for all their help as the event would not have been so successful without you.
If you want to see more and read the daily updates from the weeks build and event, go to the Alliance UK website www.alliancewake.co.uk