Adam with some spinal action

As you may remember from the last issue of Alliance (October, 2011) the Fox wakeskate team got together earlier this summer to build one of the craziest and most ambitious backyard obstacles the world of wake has ever seen. The 60-foot spine in Reed Hansen’s backyard proved to be an enormous challenge and a ton of fun for all the guys who got to hit it. Fox didn’t just want to build something and leave it in Reed’s backyard though. So yesterday they stepped it up big time when they hosted a laid-back contest / BBQ aptly named the Spine & Swine.

The biggest challenge for Reed Hansen, Grant Roberts, and Dieter Humpsch when they first built the spine and started to ride it, was getting a good, consistent pull from the PWC. It’s hard to transfer a spine when you’ve got a rope pulling you in a different direction. What the spine really needed to be perfectly effective for the riders was a System 2.0 going right over the top of it. Fox knew this, so for the Spine & Swine contest they got Pat Panakos and the Wake Park Project crew to set one up right in Reed’s backyard. Could you imagine living on your own lake, building a 60-foot-spine, and then having a 2.0 right over it? Seriously, Reed is a lucky dude.

For the contest itself the entire Fox team was brought out to Groveland, including Nor-Cal riders Derek Cook and Josh Twelker, the Shuler brothers Gunnar and Gus, and New England grom Paulie Koch. Wakeskaters other than the Fox guys included Nick Taylor, Ben Horan, Leo Labadens, Matt Hooker, and Josh Zentmeyer. In order to keep the contest laid-back and the energy positive, the guys decided to base the competition around games of W-A-K-E for the wakeboarders and S-K-8 for the wakeskaters. The wakeboarders were split into two groups. Group 1: Parks Bonifay, Jimmy LaRiche, Derek Cook, Josh Twelker, and Shaun Murray. Group 2: Bob Soven, Adam Errington, Gunnar Shuler, Gus Shuler, Rusty Malinoski, and Paulie Koch. Just like in a game of H-O-R-S-E or S-K-A-T-E the first guy takes a shot (at a trick), and if he lands it the rest of the guys have to match it. If one of the guys misses, he gets a letter. Spell out the whole word and you’re toast. Last two men standing in each heat would move on to the final. To speed things up a rule was added where if all the subsequent riders matched a trick after it was set by a rider, the rider who initially set the trick would receive a letter. This also helped prevent some competitive sandbagging.

Everybody had a blast cheering each other on, watching new tricks get attempted and often times learned, and not to mention cringing at some of the gnarly falls. The spine might look mellow from shore, but charge at it on your wakeboard and it’s a whole different animal. The wakeboarders who tamed the beast best in the first round and moved on to the finals were Parks Bonifay, Shaun Murray, Bob Soven, and Adam Errington. Parks withdrew from the final with a sore knee, so the action came down to Adam, Bob, and the man himself, Murr-dog. Unfortunately Shaun never really had the opportunity to set many tricks, as Adam and Bob kept trying to one-up each other. Adam had some great combos on top of the coping, especially a super locked in nose press to backside 180 out, while Bob went for some hammers transferring over the spine. In the end Bob knocked out Adam with an indy roll to blind transfer over the spine that had everybody on shore freaking out.

The wakeskate battle came down to Nick Taylor and Reed Hansen in the finals. Appropriate, given the history these two have shared over the years at contest finals. Even after the sun had set both guys kept charging the spine and coming up with new crazy maneuvers in attempt to knock the other out. When it was all said and done Reed bested Nick in the near-dark. Yeah, he probably had some home field advantage having hit the spine more than anybody else, but it didn’t matter, everybody was more concerned with having fun and getting after the BBQ swine that made up the second part of the contest’s title.

Big ups to Fox for working with its wakeskate team back in the beginning to conceptualize the spine and put up the funding to make it happen. Having a laid-back contest utilizing the System 2.0 over the 60-foot monster was the perfect way to enjoy a fall afternoon in Orlando and watch all the different ways each sport could potentially grow from things like this in the future… imagine if cable parks start putting spine-like ramps in some of their advanced parks. Who knows what the future holds, but either way Fox is gonna keep pushing for progression (with a large side helping of fun) and keep utilizing things like the System 2.0 and an awesome team of riders to make it happen.

Bob might have tick-tocked out of this roll to blind, but that doesn't do anything to reduce the "poop your boardshorts" factor of this insanity...