By all measures, the promoters of Lake Normans first-ever nationally televised professional wakeboarding tournament consider it a success.Now, more that six weeks after the event, those same promoters are considering whether to bring the event back to the Lake Norman area, and, if they do, where to hold it.The inaugural King of Wake Pro Wakeboard Tour event May 30-June 1 drew hundreds of fans to a small cove just outside Mooresville to watch more than 70 of the top pro wakeboarders compete. It was televised at 3:30 p.m. July 24 on the NBC Sports Network.It went great. Overall, it was a success, for sure, said PTW tournament director Chris Bischoff. We were really pumped and excited about the crowd turnout, and we were excited about the support from the local community. We couldnt have asked for much more.The (Lake Norman) area has such a strong wakeboard community. We knew that local events have done well, so I really expected a good turnout. Im pleased things went the way I expected.According to Bischoff, who is also director of operations for Winter Park, Fla.-based World Sports and Marketing, which runs the Pro Wakeboard Tour, more than 1,500 spectators attended the final day of the event. In addition, he said, more than 70 boats were rafted up in the cove to watch the tournament, won by Australian wakeboarder Harley Clifford.We had a great shoreline full of people, and we had boats anchored out that were enjoying the event, Bischoff said. You cant ask for much more than something like that. We had a crowd on the land and a crowd on the water. The competitors loved it, because they had people cheering them on from both sides.Shannon Smith, co-owner of Icy Wakes Surf Shop in Cornelius, concurred with the spectator estimates for the event. But she said the crowd could have been significantly larger had more effort gone into marketing the event in the Charlotte and Lake Norman region.The worst part was the lack of advertising, Smith said. Nobody really knew about it except for the people we told, and the people the boat dealers told.It was a great crowd, though. Overall, it was really good. The only bad thing is that its not coming back, at least to that spot.Bischoff said a developer recently bought the land at the site of this years event, along Preston and Cornelius roads. That means a new site must be found for the spectators, parking and sponsor/vendor booths. The site also needs to satisfy the need for a safe run area for the competitors.We definitely want to come back, Bischoff said. Weve got people on the hunt in that area, searching for us. As soon as we find any possibilities, Ill be back up there to check them out and see if we can make something happen.Smith said two sites in particular should be considered, both on the eastern side of Lake Norman: Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius and Stutts Marina, at the end of Stutts Road in Mooresville.Both locations have had events with large crowds in the past, hosting the Lake Norman Watercraft Challenge and its nationally sanctioned personal watercraft races in the mid-2000s.It definitely needs to return to Lake Norman, Smith said. If they can get the no-wake issues taken care of, those would be two good sites.Bischoff said he hoped to have a site finalized and the permitting process begun before the 2014 King of Wake Pro Wakeboard Tour schedule is released in October.Thats the only bummer to this, Bischoff said. Luckily, weve got a great relationship with Duke Energy, and all the municipalities were pleased with how we handled ourselves. I think well be welcomed back by everyone.Its just a matter of finding a venue now.
Friday, Jul. 26, 2013
Wakeboarding tournament seeks new Lake Norman site
Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter @BKiser_CLTObs
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