Wakefest Shirt 2014

University of Florida Wakeboarding. Ah yes.

I have spent many a morning watching the alligators scurry from the banks, and the steam lift off the dark green mirror of pea soup we know and love as Lake Wauburg. Most people call us idiots for getting in the water first thing in the morning to fight a losing battle of tug-o-war with a 400 horsepower machine, while perpetually jumping back and forth across a ripple of alligator infested water. But it’s what we live for. The euphoria that fuels the sport of wakeboarding, is not something that makes sense to most, but it is an essential ingredient in life for the few of us lucky enough to experience it.

What’s even more intriguing than the passion for wakeboarding, is the magical moment when a few haggard riders can collaborate together and get a competition organized. Fortunately, at The University of Florida, our Wakeboard Club has developed a cookbook of sorts for different occasions.

The recipe for success when cooking up a wakeboard competition:

What you will need:
–       10-25 sponsors from corporate and local businesses. We recommend Vestal, Rockstar Energy Drink, BOOM Headphones, Quiksilver, Roxy, Fox, Neill Pryde, Flomotion, Malibu, Axis, Katin, Zeal, STZ, and more

–       1 DJ who isn’t totally absorbed in the face melting electrostep underground jazzpop 14th eurohouse trap remix bootleg sample of Miley Cyrus and Skrillex. Choose one who can play some Sublime and Pepper every now and then. A vibe setter, if you will. These combine well with a hilarious announcer. Hipster wakeskaters are often a wise choice.

–       1-3 live bands for mid day entertainment during raffles

–       20+ competitors. Arrange them by skill level

–       A badass wakeboard boat with an extra crispy wake

–       A salty wakeboard boat driver

–       People in the boat for weight. The fatter the better. If they have an alternative purpose like judge or photographer, you can avoid the awkward moment of explaining that big boned people make better fatsacs.

–       A dash of old guys to call judges. Need to be able to write and see.

–       A handful of fun contests to keep the energy level high. We recommend orange eating (with peels intact), or swimming contests

–       A banger “fundraiser” afterparty with solid drink specials. We recommend The Dynasty Group

–       An extra juicy slip and slide

–       10 ripe babes for a “swimwear demonstration”

–       Pop-up tents, chairs, water coolers, energy drinks

–       2 freshman to delegate tasks like event insurance and trophy ordering


  1. Begin preparing ingredients months before the competition. Facebook events, hashtags galore, gathering and promoting sponsors, and getting competitors pre-registered.
  2. Pre-heat the event venue to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help peel the clothes off of spectators.
  3. Prepare the mix of sponsor tents, food stations, registration tent, raffle tents, and marker buoys the night before, and let them marinade at the venue, so there’s less to do in the morning
  4. Wait 2 hours after the proposed starting time for the wakeboard competitors to stumble up and ask what time their heat is up
  5. Let the beginners and womens riders go first as they are anxious to throw it down early on. Intermittently stir in a few raffles, prize giveaways, and contests. Progress to the intermediate and advanced riders, followed by the pro or outlaw division when the most spectators are present (2-3pm). Finish with Wakeskate division, and start cleaning up.
  6. Before everyone gets stale, mix things up with a rowdy photshoot to recognize sponsors.
  7. Award the podium finishers with a chance to stand on whatever randomly constructed podium you through together last minute. ie. Picnic tables, water coolers, truck beds, and so on can be used.
  8. Thank everyone for enjoying the day together and being beautiful, and invite them to the banger rager hammer jammer to follow.
  9. Proceed to the banger rager hammer jammer, usually at a house with a Nickname like “The Dojo”
  10. 10.  Smile hard and enjoy the wonderful concoction of awesomeness you created

The Secret Ingredient:
There is one thing I forgot to mention you will need throughout this process, or it will go terribly wrong: a super stoked crew of wakeboarders, who share your passion for spreading the sport of wakeboarding to the masses. This ingredient is very rare and is the hardest to find. Luckily, The University of Florida Wakeboard Club is this secret ingredient. They work together like flies on stink to undertake any project necessary to do what they love.

Our competitions at UF have improved every year. Wakefest started in the early 2000s, as the universities own competition, with no outside competitors, hosted at the school’s own Lake Wauburg, 8 miles south of campus. Wakefest began as a grassroots fundraiser for the club to promote the sport of wakeboarding and raise money for the collegiate national competition every year. Wakefest is just a day on the lake for most people, but it was a very influential day in my life. I strapped into a random person’s oversized boat of a wakeboard for maybe the 3rd time ever, hoping I could get up. Meanwhile, my supportive mother is screaming my name and taking pictures with her camera, probably with the lense cap still on. I failed at getting up my first attempt, and the crowd sighed in boredom. My second attempt I got up and rode, and it felt glorious! Then I caught a toeside edge and got ejected from the board. At least everyone had something to laugh at. My third attempt I went for a flip, which I now know as a tantrum. I got upside down, landed on my head, and was stoked to take last place in the beginner division. Six months later I was the Vice President of the Wakeboard Club with a healthy addiction to wakeboarding. Another 2 months later and I was driving the boat at Lake Wauburg as a wakeboard Instructor. I later went on to work at a kids camp in Pennsylvania teaching wakeboarding, Orlando Water Sports Complex shadowing Jeff Trudeau, the general manager, and am currently interning abroad at Wakeboard Cayman in The Cayman Islands… you can probably guess what I do here. Wakefest wasn’t just a day on the water for me. It was a new lifestyle, and a new group of friends. I can’t guarantee that any of our wakeboarding events will change anyone’s life, but I can 100% guarantee that you’ll have a good time.

Wakefest 2011


Wakefest 2012 (I almost got fired for this picture)


Wakefest 2013


After seeing the success of our wakeboard events, USA Wakeboard asked if we would host the 2013 Southeast Regional. Of coarse! Participating schools included:

University of Florida, University of Central Florida,  University of South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Rollins College, University of West Florida, University of Miami, and Florida State University. I only had to rescue 1 kid from the police, and nobody got hurt, for more than a few days, so it was awesome.

2013 USA Wakeboard Southeast Regional Qualifier


In all seriousness, I encourage all of the other collegiate and grassroots wakeboard programs to get as involved as possible. It is one of the few sports where you get more out of it than you put in. You could be saving someone from depression, loneliness, or first degree lameness. If you are ever considering organizing an event, please do not hesitate to contact myself or the University of Florida Wakeboard Club for suggestions. We can tear a page out of the ol’ UF Wake Club cookbook.

Wakefest 2014 is Saturday April 5th at Lake Wauburg South Shore, all day. Although only UF students, alumni, and staff can compete, it is open to the public. I encourage you to check it out if you are in the Central Florida area.

James Ort
University of Florida
Wakeboard Club President

Happy Shredding!