Flash forward from my previous posts. You’ve put in your time learning the fundamentals of wakeboarding, and you’ve even got yourself some gear that fits you perfect. You have your phone out on Instagram and you’re watching that same video that you did a year ago, except now, you’re ready to try that maneuver yourself!
Alright, let’s get to the point, you want to get out there and show your skills, and compete against other riders. So where do you start? Well, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your local organization to see what events they have for the season. In Ontario, we have Ontario Wake who are pushing to grow the sport, and are putting on amazing events. If you’re looking to get into wakeboarding in Ontario, it is definitely worth attending their events or reaching out for more information ( https://www.instagram.com/ontariowake/ ).  
Picture of man wakeboarding
So how do contests work you may wonder? Well, the format is quite straight forward. There are 3 buoys placed in the body of water, a Start, 3 Quarter and End buoy. The boat will start at one end of the course. Once the boat passes the start buoy, you start doing tricks. In the amateur events, you can do as many tricks as you can until the boat crosses the End buoy. Then, the boat turns around and that End buoy now becomes the start buoy, and on the way back you can do as many tricks as you can before the end buoy. But here’s the catch, if you fall once, the boat will pick you back up. After your second fall, you’re done, and you’ll have to swim to shore! (Actually, there’s a pickup boat that will come get you). If you happen to fall on your second pass, for the first time, after the 3 quarter buoy, you will not be picked up, as the boat will not have time to get on plane again.
The wakeboarding tricks you do are judged by 3 people who are in the boat. You can only do a trick once, if you repeat it, only the first one counts. Judges are looking for difficulty, intensity, execution, variety, and overall composition. It is a subjective sport, so there is not a fixed score for a particular trick. A trick can be manipulated based on the grab, style, and amplitude. In professional competitions, competitors are limited to four tricks per pass, eight tricks total. This allows riders to perform their eight hardest tricks, instead of rushing to cram in as many as possible.
Now that you know how a wakeboarding contest works, you may wonder what you need to do to prepare for a contest and bring the day of. If you’re planning on competing in a particular event, make sure you check for registration deadlines, and late fees. Some contests will cut off entry the day before an event, or increase the price of registration the week of, so do your research. Almost all of the competitions are listed on the WWA site here – https://www.thewwa.com.
Coming into an event, you’re going to want to practice lots. Remember, you only get one fall, so make sure your tricks are consistent! On the day of the event, it is important that you bring your board, lifejacket, and your own rope. People ride at all different rope lengths, so contests require you to bring your own, to make sure everybody is satisfied and on an equal playing field. You are also allowed to choose your own speed. Since it will be behind a boat different then your own, if you tell the driver the length of your rope, they’ll have a general idea of how fast to start you at. You can adjust your speed as you go.
If you’re at a competition, don’t be afraid to talk to the guys who have been doing it for a long time. They can offer some really good advice, and help you figure out what you need to do to be standing on top of the podium. Although it is a competition, don’t forget your sportsmanship and to encourage all the other athletes. It makes it more fun for everyone. So get out on the water, practice your best tricks, and get ready for your first competition!!