It’s safe to say that if you want to see pro wakeboarders trying the hardest tricks in the business, then Parks Bonifay’s Double or Nothing contest is the place to be. 1080’s, double flips, multiple backside spins, and even 1260’s. Unfortunately, this year’s version wasn’t necessarily the place to see them land all those tricks.
The majority of the fourth annual Double or Nothing contest was held yesterday, but an incoming storm forced the last two riders, Andrew Adkison and Danny Harf, to finish their 15-minute sets this morning at the site in Lake Wales, FL. Lake Wales is not really on anyone’s radar in Orlando, save for the Bonifay brothers who grew up the closest to that small town in Lake Alfred, a good 15 miles away. But Parks didn’t choose the site for this year’s Double or Nothing based on accessibility, he chose it because the lake is one of the most pristine in all of Central Florida, a deep aquamarine and surrounded by the brilliant white sand that it is mined for.
Twenty riders made the trip out to Lake Wales early on Tuesday morning, and probably had the similar joy of listening to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” over and over again on the radio in remembrance of September 11th. (I love the David Cross bit about it being the “9/11” remix and that if Greenwood wants to “gladly stand up and defend her still today”, well then, “Here’s your SECOND chance, grab a gun mother f-er, the boat leaves from over there.”) The fact that the event took place on September 11th was purely coinicidental though, based on a window of availability. But over the course of the day I began to think that maybe the ulucky vibe might be leaking through. Spirits were high, but the day was a little bit cursed for most of the would be best-trickers. Shane Bonifay pulled through with a toeside backside seven, and there were some 9’s and doubles thrown down, but the big tricks that most of the pros had practiced leading up to the event went unlanded, including Danny Harf’s 1260 attempt that he has apparently come pretty close to at home in Clermont.
The contest did include an expanded roster with some new names, based on qualifying rounds held during the Pro Tour through the year. First timers Kevin Henshaw, Jimmy Lariche, Joey Bradley, Adam Errington, Dean Smith and others got a chance to experience their first Double or Nothing, and charged just as hard as anyone, but the water gods were grabbing a lot of edges and pulling them down. One surprise was that one of the veterans, 30+ year-old Shaun Murray, didn’t hold back from the big air portion of the awards. Murray threw probably the biggest air Raley anyone has ever seen, and showed the rookies that his knees are as solid as ever.
In all, it was just a weird day for landing moves. All the contestants went big, did their hardest moves and didn’t even come close to trying to play it safe, but the double up seemed to get the best of them. But the theory still remains intact, Parks invented this contest so that pro wakeboarers could push the limits of size and difficulty, no matter what the outcome. In a way, the legacy of this year’s event may be the most impactful on the sport, because now there are a lot of pissed off guys that want to land their hardest tricks in a contest. Wakeboarding history has steadily proven that bruised egos mixed with desire are always the best motivator, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of new moves popping up on the Internet in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.