Wakeboarders and other extreme water sports enthusiasts will turn out in droves to Lake Murray on June 19 to participate in the 10th annual Weekend With The Pros event.
It’s an opportunity for wakeboarders of all levels to learn from and watch the pros showcase their tricks and talents.
For Shaun Murray, the event is not only another opportunity to participate in the sport he loves. He will also be able to impart some of his own professional wisdom on just how they can become one with the wake.
Murray, a four-time wakeboard world champion, said when he was first invited to the event at Lake Murray 10 years ago, only a few locals attended. Last year, 1,100 spectators and 280 boats were in attendance; those numbers are expected to increase again this year.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Murray said. “I just like to show up and have a good time.”
Although the event is free to the public, Murray and longtime friend and fellow professional Josh Palma will offer classes for those who have never wakeboarded and those who have been wakeboarding but would like to learn the professional touch.
The classes will be held at Paradise Cove off of Amick’s Ferry Road; prices are $175 for a half day and $295 for a full day. Lessons include coaching behind new wake boats, equipment demos, an event shirt and hat and lunch with the pros.
“I loved coaching people to ride on a wakeboard because the physics are so much more different than any other action sport,” Murray said. “It’s so fun to take something someone has been struggling with, even if they have been a longtime rider or a first-time rider, I love seeing that lightbulb moment they have when they finally get it.”
Murray began began competitive wakeboarding 20 years ago after his father agreed to let him take a semester off school in Florida and pursue a career in the sport. After quickly rising through the ranks and gaining sponsorships, Murray remains one of the big names in the game.
For those wanting to follow Murray’s path, he said there are many amateur competitions around the state and the nation in which kids can get their name in front of major sponsors. Social media has also changed how sponsorships can be gained. Demo-videos have become popular in showcasing one’s talents and skills.
But being a sponsored rider is much more than being good at tricks and in competitions. Murray’s advice to be successful in the sport is to be a good person on and off the water.
“I have seen too many kids who practice and practice, and when they get in front of a camera, they aren’t polite. They don’t have the communication skills to back it up,” Murray said. “You have to carry yourself in a respectful way and carry a company’s message in a respectful way. That’s what a sponsored rider is about.
“It’s about taking turns and watching each other and learning from each other. Sure there will be rivalries, but for the most part, it’s a pretty good vibe from everyone,” Murray said.
If you go: In-water boat show: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. June 19-20, Paradise Cove, Chapin(GPS: 34.11, -81.395). Free. Pro wakeboard demo: 2 p.m. June 20, Rocky Creek. Free. Wakeboard lessons from the pros: Starting at 8 a.m. June 19 and June 20, at Paradise Cove, Chapin. Details: wwtp2015.eventbrite.com.