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“Wake Up” event increases buzz about extreme sport

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“Wake Up” event increases buzz about extreme sport

Red Bull pro athlete Mike Dowdy (right) offered pointers to wakeboarders during a two-hour clinic at the beginning of the event.

Red Bull pro athlete Mike Dowdy (right) offered pointers to wakeboarders during a two-hour clinic at the beginning of the event.

Red Bull pro athlete Mike Dowdy (right) offered pointers to wakeboarders during a two-hour clinic at the beginning of the event.

Red Bull pro athlete Mike Dowdy (right) offered pointers to wakeboarders during a two-hour clinic at the beginning of the event.

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

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In an effort to raise awareness and interest in the sport of wakeboarding, Red Bull hosted their inaugural “Wake Up” event at Hexagon Wake Park in Benson, NC on Sept. 27.

Students from several universities all over the state came to partake in the event, which allowed all those with student identification cards to ride for free at the cable park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Additionally, Red Bull team athlete Mike Dowdy was brought in from Orlando to host a clinic session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where he helped both novice and more advanced riders to learn the basics of certain tricks and grabs.

“It’s awesome,” Dowdy, 20, said.“There’s been a ton of people coming out. I’ve been giving pointers and coaching some people, so it’s been a fun day. I think there’s a big movement here. There’s lots of waterways. Surfing is pretty strong here and this is kind of the younger sister to surfing type of thing, so it’s cool to see more people getting involved.”

Sixty-two attendees from five different schools were represented at the event, as the day was promoted for students from all colleges to attend. Bringing together wake boarders from all over the state allowed people to make connections for future sessions, while also helping to spread the word and interest of the sport as well.

“We just want to show them that wakeboarding is fun, and it’s not like a competitive environment,” said Ben Pierce, president of the UNCW wakeboard club.“A lot of people are kind of scared when they first see it. They don’t want to come out and ride. But we’ve doubled our numbers from last year to this year, so people are stoked on it.”

Many members of UNCW’s wakeboard club played a part in the event. The wakeboard club has established itself as one of the more popular student organizations on campus, with membership growing to over 40 full-fledged members this year.

“It was just a great day to be involved with wakeboarding,” added Megan DeCampli, vice president of the UNCW wakeboard club. “Hopefully this helps, not only us grow, but everyone involved in the sport throughout the state grow as well.”

The expertise of riders ranged from novice to the most advanced, with no favoritism handed to the more sound riders. During the free riding session, each wake boarder was supplied with a board and gear, provided they had their student ID card. Then, once ready to hit the park, took their spot in line where they would be hooked up to the first cable and dragged out in succession.

With so many people partaking in the event, nerves were present for many riders. However, a welcoming atmosphere between everyone promoted riders to try tricks that they may have not usually attempted in a traditional setting.

“The event was so much fun,” said Antoine Delanglade, a French foreign exchange student who is a member of the UNCW wakeboard club. “It’s terrific to be able to ride with some pros. They are very welcoming and you can learn a lot.”

Delanglade, who also wakeboards in France, also believed American riders to be more advanced than European wake boarders, and found it more helpful to learn from an established rider such as Dowdy.

The Wakeboard Club’s year runs until the end of October, before quieting down activities during the colder months. However, during their active months through the fall and spring, the club goes out as frequently as they can.

All those interested in joining the Wakeboard Club are encouraged to contact club president Ben Pierce.

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“Wake Up” event increases buzz about extreme sport