McKee's extra high method

McKee’s extra high method

This One Goes to 11… (almost)

The Return of the Alliance High Jump Contest

words & photos: Garrett Cortese

Nine years ago, in an attempt to continue to bring the most progressive riding to the forefront of wakeboarding, we introduced the Alliance High Jump contest. Rigged out of PVC pipe, plywood, and a burning desire to touch the sky; the high jump itself was a sight to behold. Watching the riders clear it was even better. The whole thing was a smashing success until Trevor Hansen literally smashed the towable rig at 9-feet. That left the high jump mark of 8-foot-6 of pure awesomeness. A mark that sat for almost a decade, but a near decade in which we spent countless hours (slight exaggeration) thinking of how we could refine the high jump event and take wakeboarding to newer and higher heights (pun totally intended).

All those years (and minimal ideas) later, Jeff McKee and I found ourselves back in Home Depot shopping for more PVC pipe and plywood. The only difference being a couple gray hairs (both of us) and a couple of kids in the cart (for Jeff). We refined the high jump with 11/4-inch PVC and heavy duty PVC glue, as well as stronger supports and base. A few hours of cutting and gluing later and we were ready for more progression (and the two-year-old twins were ready to use it as a ladder).



Steel Lafferty: he’s short, but he’s got serious ups. Some think he can jump higher than a jackelope on acid.

Massi Piffaretti: who knows what’s going to happen when you bring the Pizza Boi to the party.

Dylan Miller: because if anything says “Wakezeach the snot out of this” it’s a contest involving high jumps, knees to the chin, and minimal grabs

Jeff McKee: he invented it nine years ago and we needed his boat.


Steel going up and over. Toeside...

Steel going up and over. Toeside…

Nine (9) Feet

We started where Trevor left (read: broke) off back in 2007: the nine-foot mark. Since wakes grew exponentially from ‘07 to ‘16, this only seemed fair (and we didn’t want to waste time/energy on wimpy little jumps when there was some Chik-Fil-A on the line).

Of course, everybody cleared it, although not without some mishaps. First off, we had to swap towable bases from a rigid body Slingshot prototype to the classic of all tubes: Big Mable. Then we had to reconstruct it after a clipping from Dylan. All-in-all though the modified high jump rig was much stronger nine years later.

Dylan Miller's tail tap

Dylan Miller’s tail tap

Ten (10) Feet

We skipped the six-inch intervals and went straight up by another foot. It seemed appropriate given how easily everybody cleared nine feet (except for Dylan). At this point the event turned into a more of a freestyle “expression session”, which was totally fine because nothing says “progression” like “expression session” (and they freaking rhyme!) Jeff tackled it with a mistimed method (but it held strong and putting it back together was a breeze because our nine-years of R&D allowed for near perfection) before clearing it with an insane frontside 360 and another method. That gave him some confidence to try a true “high jump” maneuver – a tantrum over the bar… This seemed like a great idea until we realized Jeff could put his head under the bar, which could lead to unforeseen consequences not ideal for a father of two. But progression doesn’t come easy, so Dad went for it anyway… and cleared it while tapping the top bar with his forehead, at which point he appropriately tapped out.

Steel easily clearing 10-feet

Steel easily clearing 10-feet

Next up was Steel, who easily boosted heelside and toeside jumps over the ten-foot mark. It was quite impressive – like seeing a jackelope on acid for real. Dylan and Massi decided to take a break as everybody just wanted to see if Steel could clear 11.  Looking at the footage it was obvious he could. What wasn’t obvious though was if he would happen to hit the wake a little weird, not come close to clearing it, and subsequently resurrect the spirit of 2007 Trevor Hansen and smash the high jump to bits. Sadly, that is what happened, and even more sadly the extra PVC and glue we used weren’t enough to overcome this smashing (guess we needed another year of R&D), and the majority of the progression is now at the bottom of Lake Sue in Orlando.

This one goes to 11...

This one goes to 11…



Yes, the second iteration of the Alliance High Jump contest was short lived, but the heights to which we pushed wakeboarding will live on indefinitely. Want to know how far we’ve come in almost ten years?! One-foot-six, baby! While some might scoff at the 18-inch improvement in high-jumping on wakeboards between 2007 and 2016, we at Alliance say “one small jump for wakeboarder, one giant leap for wakeboarding.” And we also say “Not Beer”. See you in 2025!