Text and Photos by Alex Gardiner
Wake N’ Beach is now in its fifth year and attracts riders from all over the globe, with riders coming all the way from Russia, Germany, Spain, USA, Canada Austria, Thailand and Finland, alongside us Brits and the local Frenchies. The event has changed and evolved over the years, from a pool gap on the beach, to a cable comp in the sea, to a jib contest run at the Little Bro Wake Park, set on a small inlet of the Mediterranean just next to the main cableway. New for this year was the addition of 4 Unit obstacles which would make up the course for the event, including a 2-way kicker, a rooftop, a flat bar and a skate box.
The comp is run over 3 days with a freeriding and practice session on Friday, Qualifications on Saturday and Semis and Finals on Sunday. There’s always a great following of the event due its live webcast presented by Sooruz, it’s great location and it’s reputation for being a friendly rail comp that reunites people for a sick weekend of riding, sun and fun as part of the first of the 2011 WWA Europe competitions.
Our weekend began as we embarked on the short flight over the channel to France for the start of a 3-week road trip that would include the Wake’n’Beach, Wake’n’Country and FISE events. We met up with Marc Rossiter fresh in from O’Town U.S.A, where he now lives. We were met at the airport by Phil (Good) Sirech from Unleashed Wake Magazine, who also heads up WWA France and WWA Europe along with Danielle Crawford, and he took us over to the TNG Cable Park run by Damien Deville, where got our first rides in on French soil. Here, we met up with some other riders who came in from the States as well as some of the French locals. The plan was to collect Brian Reeder and stay overnight in Toulouse before heading south to Port Barcares for the Wake n’ Beach event.
We arrived at the site known as Kum Wake Park (KWP), which is a 2 tower system located in South West France on the French and Spanish Border. We had a ride, did registration and hung out with some old and new friends. The rest of the British crew: CK Koester, Freddie Carter, Daniel Grant and Louis Floyd came down with the Sooruz team after having spent a few days riding at Nicolas Degardins Cable Park near Bordeaux.
That night’s dinner was followed by some mad coloured tasting shots and a friendly gathering outside the hotel. The free host hotel was like some weird episode from the Twilight Zone. The place was this deserted compound inhabited by huge sea birds that moaned and hovered overhead at all hours. “Area 51 Seagull land” was a bit creepy but everyone had a blast exploring the grounds and keeping the party rolling.
The weather was super hot and sunny the entire weekend of the contest. Saturday was an early start for Rossi, Reeder and myself as we wanted to get in a last minute practise session before the comp started at noon. I was up against 12 other women of mixed ages in the Open Women category. Rossi, CK, Freddie, Daniel and Louis had to battle it out against the likes of Brian Reeder, Mike Ennen, Keith Lidberg, Marc Shuster, Nate Perry, Kaeson Suyderhoud, Trevor Bashir, Yann Thibbault, Quinn Silvernale, Bertrand Oustriere and Kevin Sudrat from France amongst many other quality riders who attended the comp. Rossi was top seed as he won the event last year and got the pleasure of seeing everyone else ride first. CK, Rossi and I all qualified through to the next round with Freddie C and Louis sadly bowing out. In town for another contest, 5 time kiteboarding World Champion Aaron Hadlow from the UK, surprised us all and joined the comp also qualifying through to the Semi Finals.
On the Sunday, crazy strong winds along with the heat made for great riding conditions for the kiteboarding competition, but was definitely not ideal for us. The once calm millpond area was now nearly white capped. The obstacles were swaying all over and the event tents had all blown down. Everyone pulled together to get the site set back up so the comp could go on.
CK and Rossi were in the same semi finals round against French rider Kevin Sudrat. They both rode super sick and it was a close match with Rossi finally making it through to the finals and CK taking his very credible 5th place position. The finals didn’t go as well as I would have liked given my previous riding over the weekend and the sketchy conditions. I fell in my 1st run and had to make sure that I landed my 2nd or go out in last place after leading the comp all the way through. I managed to do a sketchy stand up final run and finished in 3rd overall.
In wakeskate, fellow Thai/Brit Daniel “Turtle” Grant took down French favourites Leo Labadens and Bertrandt Oustrieres. The wind dropped a little for the pro men finals but the conditions were still pretty tough. There was 10,000 Euro up for grabs and the level of riding was amazing given the conditions. Rossi stomped his first pass with 3 sweet rail hits and a massive switch backside 540 off the kicker to end his run. It was a super close final with Kaesen Suyderhoud finally taking the top spot and Marc taking 2nd and winning 2,000 Euro. Trevor Bashir rounded out 3rd and Keith Lidberg took 4th.
Thanks to Phil Sirech, the Sooruz crew, Fred Sastre “Kum” of Kum Wake Park and the team from WWA for putting on such a great event. After a fantastic weekend and prize giving on Sunday night we all left in convoy for Wake’n’Country, the next WWA Europe event to be held in L’isle Jourdain, near Toulouse at the TNG cable park next weekend.
1st Kaesen Suyderhoud
2nd Marc Rossiter
3rd Trevor Bashir
4th Keith Lidberg
1st Daniel Grant
2nd Leo Labadens
3rd Bertrand Oustrieres
4th Kevin Sudrat
1st Krystiina Nyman
2nd Emanuelle Martinez
3rd Alexandria Gardiner
4th Alfaro Rosalia