When the owners of IcyWakes Surf Shop founded Wake the Lake more than a decade ago, it was meant to showcase the wakeboarding talent in the Lake Norman area.
However, circumstances – namely, outside groups that took over running the event – saw the annual wakeboarding competition stray from its intended goal.
Now that IcyWakes’ owners have reclaimed Wake the Lake, they’ve gone back to the tournament’s roots, and are looking at ways to make it better.
“A lot of what we want to do is showcase all these local riders,” said Jammi Allen, who co-owns the Cornelius-based IcyWakes Surf Shop with Shannon Smith.
“It’s a very closed community, but there’s a ton of wakeboarders that really don’t have a chance to show what they’ve practiced all summer. So we really want to give them that opportunity, to show what they’ve learned.”
This year’s Wake the Lake, scheduled for Sept. 19, has undergone one major change: It’s location.
The competition had always been held in the Reeds Creek cove on the eastern side of Lake Norman, near what is now Eddie’s Seafood and Raw Bar on Williamson Road in Mooresville.
But this year, Wake the Lake has been moved to Stumpy Creek Park, the only lakeside park operated by the Iredell County Parks & Recreation Department. The 83-acre park is off Perth Road.
According to Allen, the change in location was made for three reasons.
“It was because we needed more room for spectators and vendors,” he said. “Plus, the other piece of that is that the runs will be a lot closer now, and there’s more room along the shoreline.
“People will really be able to see the riders now, because everybody wants that. The runs will also be longer. We’re excited about that, and it gives us some growth room, for sure.”
This year’s Wake the Lake will have competitors in seven divisions – groms (boys and girls, 9 and younger), beginner boys and girls (ages 10-15), novice, intermediates, advanced and outlaw – that will feature some of the region’s top professionals.
Like last year’s competition, interest is high among area wakeboarders. Allen said that entries for this year’s Wake the Lake are running ahead of 2014’s.
“We’re right on target,” Allen said. “We had 80-something riders last year, and we’re looking at having to cap the entries again this year.
“We had to cap it last year because we only have so many hours in the day, and we have to stop riding when the sun goes down. But we should be able to get the first riders off the dock at 9 a.m.”
In past years, Wake the Lake was a two-day event, but when IcyWakes Surf Shop regained control of the event, it was shifted back to a one-day competition.
“That’s something that’s always in the back of our minds,” Allen said of possibly expanding Wake the Lake back to a two-day event. “It would be great, because we could have more riders out there.
“But then you’re also asking people to come for two days, so you’re asking those having to travel to add to their expense (items) like hotels. We’re trying to keep expenses very low for everyone, so we can keep it open to spectators for free.”
However, with the move to Stumpy Creek Park, Allen said that they’re thinking of what can be done with Wake the Lake in the future – for the competitors and the spectators.
“It’s always in the back of our minds,” Allen said. “We’ve thrown out the idea of having two boats pulling (wakeboard riders) at the same time. That’s always a possibility, and we could keep it a one-day event. But you’re going to see this event continue to grow.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about Wake the Lake, go to http://wakethelakelkn.com/.