History was made at the world famous Orlando Watersports Complex (OWC) on December 18th, 2005 when the OWC Wakeboard Invitational took place LIVE on the internet. This is the first time a cable event has ever been webcasted live in the US. Thousands of fans from all around the world tuned in on their computers to watch some of the best cable and boat wakeboarders and wakeskaters tear it up on the rails, kickers, and corners.
The crew from Webcast-TV.com, OWC and a boat load of volunteers managed to get this event together in record time. The event was conceived, organized, and marketed in a 6-week span! Normally, an event of this kind would take up to a year to properly organize. The purpose of the event was to test the technology and popularity of webcasting to see if there was enough demand to pursue future endeavors. We’ve learned through emails that wakeboarding groups and clubs had setup computers attached to big screens to allow anywhere from 1-100 people to watch. The number of computers and groups logging on exceeded all our expectations. Not too shabby considering the limited time available for promotions.
Tom Grey, co-founder of Webcast-TV.com said, "After running the event in the worst possible conditions we felt that we accomplished all the goals we set out to achieve. We have learned a huge amount of valuable information that we can use to take Webcast-TV up to the next level. The event started out as purely being a test to check that we had the systems in place to deliver a live webcast. We know that we had issues which we need to address, particularly with a few viewers not being able to log onto the player . We now have some time to address these before our next event to ensure that we can deliver a top rate show. And to cap it off, I believe we put on one of the best and most memorable wakeboard events ever."
Online viewers had the opportunity to email questions to two of the most famous personalities in the wakeboarding industry, Shaun Murray and Dallas Friday. Shaun, Dallas, and Sascha Peschl provided commentary and answered questions sent in from viewers. There were viewers from 25 European countries, 10 Asian countries, and many others from Africa, Australia, South America, and of course, North America which includes the US, Canada, and Mexico. For the first time ever, the winner in each division was determined by the online viewing public. Viewers could login to www.webcast-tv.com and cast their vote for who they thought should win. Having this kind of interaction with the viewers is what makes the event so unique. Allowing the fans to be part of the event brings the community closer and keeps them involved. Mike Ferraro, the busiest man in the industry and head coach at OWC said it best; "instead of bringing people out to the event, we’re bringing the event to the people."
The invitations went out to some of the most well-known riders. The wakeskate division included some big players like Brandon Thomas, Brian Grubb, and George Daniels. Big names like Phillip Soven, Andrew Adkison, Rusty Malinoski, Keith Lidberg, and JD Webb rounded out the boat riders division. Rob Mapp, Chad Forrest, Donald Shelbrick, Josh Rice, Nick Davies and Keith Lidberg were some of the big names in the cable division. Keith Lidberg was the only rider to compete in both the cable and boat riders’ divisions, proving he’s one of the most versatile riders around. Cross-training between boat and cable tends to help riders learn tricks faster and allows them to get more comfortable on the rails. You’ll notice the riders that frequent the rail parks seem to do better than those that don’t.
There were 3 divisions with 8 invited riders for each division. The divisions included wakeboard cable riders, wakeboard boat rriders, and wakeskaters. There were two wildcard spots in each division that was open to anyone that wanted to be part of the event – bringing the total to 10 riders in each division. Interested riders would send in a short video clip and online viewers voted on the winners of the spots. Just another way for the online community to participate in the event.
The event took place entirely on the cable. Boat riders only hit the rails and kickers. Cable riders used the entire cable lake to perform air tricks around the corners and on the flats. They also had to show their skills on the many obstacles. Wakeskates proved they could put on a great show with innovative tricks on both the flat water and obstacles.
Viewers were treated to a dazzling array of technical tricks and huge air. Many of the tricks that are performed behind the boat have made their way to the cable scene. On event day, we saw KGBs, 313s, Back Mobes, Front Mobes, S-bend to Blinds, Bell-Air to blinds, and other flip and raley style tricks – all performed without a boat wake! Using line tension, riders are able to "pop" off the water like a slingshot. Rail and kicker tricks continue to impress the crowds – especially when you have riders like Adam Errington, Phillip Soven, and Jimmy Lariche consistently landing 900s.
After the final vote from our online spectators, Jimmy Lariche of Boca Raton, FL USA was crowned the champion for the boat riders division throwing down some of the cleanest spins ever seen. Nick Davies of Chertsey, London, UK won the cable riders division with technical tricks rarely scene on the cable. John Ruark from Orlando, FL USA took top honors in the wakeskate division. John showed the world his innovative style and impressed the fans with his signature trick, the delivery boy. Congratulations!
If you missed the event, you can still view it through the archives. Just visit www.webcast-tv.com and watch different segments of the event – all for free!
There was quite a bit of hype going into the event thanks to Red Bull, Fox, WakeWorld.com, Wakebording Magazine, WWA, and the many other companies that helped spread the word. A special thanks to Crispers for feeding us and Florida Broadband Wireless for keeping our internet connection streaming flawlessly. We’d like to thank everyone involved for volunteering their time and participating in the event. Look out for more events of this kind as we move into the next age of broadcasting extreme sports.
Please take the time to fill out a survey now up on our website and give us the most unique story on your experience of the webcast for a chance to win a Hyperlite Wakeboard and boots of choice. Tell us what you thought, so we can improve the website and make it an even better experience for our viewers during our next webcast !
Here are the final results based on votes from our online viewers from around the world.
Wakeskate – Obstacles and Surface tricks
1st – John Ruark (USA)
2nd – Kyle Hyams (USA)
3rd – Justin Dahan (USA)
Boat Riders Division – Obstacles Only
1st – Jimmy LaRiche (USA)
2nd (tie) – Adam Errington (USA)
2nd (tie) – Andrew Adkison (USA)
Cable Riders Division – Obstacles and Air Tricks
1st – Nick Davies (GBR)
2nd – Josh Rice (USA)
3rd – Keith Lidberg (USA)