The most anticipated stop of the 2009 Toe Jam is going down tomorrow, May 9th, at the Projects. The rail jam towed behind the Sea Doo is always a favorite of the riders and fans alike. But a lack of rainfall in Florida has lowered the water in the rail lake drastically, and early reports had the rails checking in at about chest high. While the fears of a backside boardslide fest seemed very real, all the worry was unnecessary, as the Project crew lowered them all to the perfect not-too-high, not-too-low, we’re-having-a-pro-wakeskate-contest-here height.
Practice went down this afternoon, pulled by a masked Josh Kirby. Any one of the 37 riders signed up could come and take a set on the rails, get down their line and get a feel for the course. I headed out to get sweaty (the thermometer in my PT Cruiser read a balmy 98 degrees) and dirty (love the Projects!) and attempted to get some predictions from the riders on what would go down.
For the most part, people we’re apprehensive to pick favorites. Only a few riders (BT, George Daniels, Travis Doran) said themselves. “Hey, I gotta have confidence in myself!” BT explained. Reed Hansen got a few votes from riders including Nick Harlos and Silas Thurman, who listed the World Champ as a definite possibility. Silas continued, “Ben Horan, Nick Taylor, you got some heavy rail hitters who are going to worry anybody.” At the point I approached Silas, he’d actually received 3 votes (probably because he was on course at the time) and when I told him that he said, “Thing is if I win today, I don’t need to tomorrow,” and then hastily left the Projects.
Another popular pick was Mr. Andrew Pastura. While Grant Roberts predicted he would come in second to Nick Taylor, Dieter Humpsch put $50 on Andy’s victory. “You’re going to pay me $50 if he wins, right?” Diets said hopefully. (I’m totally not.)
Also in the running according to the riders is Mr. Daniel Hampson. Ross Gardner said, “I’ve rolled the dice a lot, but I might put my money on old Hampson. An old favorite, but the old horse still got some new tricks.” Of course the ever-humble Danny voted against himself. “I don’t know. I’m not going to win. I am probably not gonna make it through my heat, but I will boardslide big spin everything in my path!”
When asked for his prediction, Nick Taylor said there would probably be a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Collin Gee, standing beside him on the dock didn’t agree. “I think it’s gonna be blue skies, I think it’s gonna be good.” But one look from Mr. Taylor, Collin changed his tune. “It’s gonna be cloudy. OK, thunderstorms. Nailed it.”
Finally, Matt Manzari and Reed Hansen both checked in with the same dire response. Reed explained, “No one is going to win, everyone was going to get Swine Flu and die.” But Matt pointed out that Kirby was wisely wearing a mask. “He’ll be driving the jet ski into the abyss when all the bodies drop.”
Since there are no reported cases of Swine Flu in Bithlo, I’m not too worried about that. However, one thing is for sure, the Rockstar Rail Jam is anyone’s game this year. It could be and old favorite, but you also shouldn’t count out newcomers such as Joe Phillips who was throwing 3 flips and an allegedly kickflip off the incline. If you’re in Orlando, come check it out, and if not, follow my tweets in real time and check the site later for full coverage!
Saturday, May 9
Qualifying: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Semis / Finals 2 – 6 p.m.
For more information go to http://byerlytoejam.com