A birthday present for a 13-year-old wakeboarder evolved into what some call the biggest watersports event on Lake Murray.
The S.C. Rough Riders will host the 11th annual Weekend With The Pros on Lake Murray next weekend.
Not only can boaters watch professional wakeboarders throw their best tricks Saturday, but wakeboarders can also sign up for lessons Friday and Saturday with pros Shaun Murray and Josh Palma.
It was a lesson 19 years ago that got S.C. Rough Riders founder Chris Farr involved in wakeboarding.
“For my 13th birthday, my parents hired Jonathon McDonald, a world-champion wakeboarder, to come to Lake Murray and coach me,” said Farr, also event director for Weekend With The Pros. “The first time he hit the wake and did a flip, it changed my life.
“Weekend With The Pros was born out of what my parents did for me for that birthday back in 1997.”
The pros who will be soaring, jumping, twisting and flipping on Lake Murray this weekend are:
▪ Shaun Murray, a four-time World champion wakeboarder, and the main character featured in the video game Wakeboarding Unleashed.
▪ Josh Palma, a pro since 2006, had a top 10 finish in the 2010 King of Wake and is among the top freestyle riders in the country.
▪ Danny Harf became a professional wakeboarder in 2000 – he was 16. He is known as one of the innovators of wakeboarding and has helped with the progression of it as a sport.
▪ Kent Hartshorn is a national champion knee boarder from Summerville, and among the world’s best.
Farr started Weekend With the Pros 11 years ago, when he and friends pooled money to bring a pro wakeboarder to Lake Murray for coaching.
“Looking back over the last 11 years, the growth has been great, even a little staggering, and one thing has remained the same: our mission to introduce people to the best in lake life and spread our love of watersports,” Farr said.
THE VIBE: Does it get any cooler than this – watching pro wakeboarders in action doing tricks? Enough said. And if you’re lucky enough to take the lessons, maybe we’ll be watching you at this event sometime in the future.
THE VERDICT: This is great way to spend a day at the lake. Grab a boat and get going.
Lezlie Patterson, Special to Go Columbia
If you go
11th annual Weekend With The Pros
WHEN: Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18
WHERE: Lake Murray
Know the lingo
If you plan to go watch the pros but aren’t familiar with wakeboarding, here are five terms that may help you:
AIR: Getting in the air, the amount of space between the rider and the water.
BUTT CHECK: When the rider lands a trick and drags or slaps his butt on the water. Generally this is considered a sloppy landing.
FACEPLANT: A fall where you catch your toeside edge causing you to fall quickly so your face slaps the water hard.
GRAB: While in the air, if the rider reaches down to the board and clasps his hand on it, it’s a “grab.” There are lots of different types of grabs that can be done alone or added to other tricks.
WIPE OUT: Yep, you know this one – and riders hope they don’t do it.
Wakeboarding lessons with the pros
Lessons are $295 Friday, June 17 and $175 for a half-day Saturday, June 18. Details: www.southcarolinaroughriders.com
Watch the pros in action
The Pro Wakeboard Demo is at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18 in Dead Man’s Cove at Rocky Creek (GPS: 34.059, -81.480). Take your own boat to the free show.
Front-row seats in the boats pulling the pros including photos and autographs between sets can be purchased at www.southcarolinaroughriders.com.
Chapin In Water Boat Show
In addition to wakeboarding, the Chapin In Water Boat Show will be Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18 featuring local dealers Carolina Inboard, Hall Marine, Captain’s Choice and Gunnells Marine Unlimited showcasing pontoons, runabouts, fishing boats, center consoles and wakeboard boats.
The free boat show will be from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at The Frayed Knot restaurant, 1701 Dreher Island Road, Chapin.