By Shawneen Burkes
On a sunny and breezy Saturday afternoon, Board Up Miami offered entertainment overload for its spectators. Board Up provided a little bit of something for everyone with wakeboarding, wakeskating, skateboarding, BMX demos, live music, bikini fashion shows, plenty of goodies to buy, and of course, what would a trip to Miami be without some great food. The event took place in the Marine Stadium basin, just slightly southeast of the Marine Stadium, with downtown Miami as the backdrop. As the opening of the 2010 Pro wakeboard season, Board Up did not disappoint.
In the wakeskating competition, the riders are perched atop their boards as they trick out across the waves. Unlike wakeboarding, however, those crazy wakeskaters are not strapped onto their boards making it essentially skateboarding on the water. Andrew Masi walked away with top honors, followed by a name heard all day long, Marcel Mullet.
The wakeboarding competition was broken down into the following categories: Pro Men, Jr Men, Men Vets, Jr Boys, Boys, Pro Women, Jr Women, Women Vets (dubbed Moms Gone Wild), and Jr Girls. It appeared that the Gutierrez family was set on single handedly taking over the sport as dad Camillo, daughter Maite, and son Matais conquered the competition in Men Vets, Jr Girls and Jr Boys respectively. Paula Fay was the Mom Gone Wild of the day while Leah Gibney took first in the Jr Women class. Kyle Evans was had a strong showing in the Jr Mens division, winning it.
In an impressive feat, pulling double-duty, Noah Flegel not only walked away with the top prize in the Boys division, but also provided color commentary for the event. At a mere 12 years old, and scoring 13 more points on his runs than his closest competitor, this young man has talent to go around. His knowledge of and passion for the sport shines through when he takes the microphone and when the announcing turned towards the bikini fashion show, he was able to take that in stride as well…perhaps after a moment of being dumbstruck by the ladies.
In a tight race in the Pro Womens division, Nicola Butler was able to rise above the competition to take the win. Following closely behind were Australia’s Amber Wing, Floridian Raimi Merritt, both Alli athletes, and Californian Shawna Hoffman. In a conversation with Shawna during down time between heats, she expressed her love of the tropical Florida weather, the nice people, and of course, the food, Cuban in particular.
The Pro Mens division was simply loaded. With last chance qualifiers before the semis, Scott Stewert and Harley Clifford, who is gracing the latest cover of Wakeboard Magazine, brought their A game getting them into the semis. The semis brought the top 12 riders and would only send the best 4 to the final. Making their way into those coveted spots were Phillip Soven (Alli athlete), Harley Clifford, Jimmy LaRiche (Alli athlete), and Bob Soven, 2009 Alliance Rookie of the Year and Phillip’s little bro. When it was all said and done and the spray cleared, it was Bob Soven that crushed the competition taking first and maybe showing big brother who’s the boss.
On land, a mini ramp and street contest was held which was open to the skaters in attendance ranging in experience from beginner to advanced. There wasn’t a moment all day where the ramp was free of bodies. It was great to see the cultural diversity that thrives in Miami make it out to Board Up. There were two girls up there jockeying for position with the boys as well, showing off their girl power. One of the vendors aiming to bring more diversity to the extreme and adventure sports was Kems3. Owned by Cliff Brown and originated in the NY/NJ area, Kems3 is now featuring their gear in the Bronx (The Platform), Miami (Shoe Gallery), and Coral Springs (BC Surf). In their five years of operation, they have strived to give kids opportunities to try new adventures like skateboarding and BMX.
BMX Pro Mike Spinner showed off his skills and showed why he’s riding on the Dew Tour in a demo for the spectators. The fact that he managed to focus on his tricks while the ladies of MicroKitten bikinis stood on the side of the ramp demonstrated his true dedication to the sport. Board Up is truly turning out to be an event for the ages. Whether you are a landlubber or you have your sea legs, you’re sure to find something to amaze and entertain you. So next year, when Board Up rolls around, if you aren’t in Miami, you might want to consider making that trip because it is an event not to be missed.
Shawneen Burkes came to extreme sports through watching her brother race BMX (and taking one hilarious trip around the track where she nearly ate dirt). She hopes to introduce you to some different extreme aerial athletics that she’s come to fall in love with over the last 10 years.