JEFFERSON – The sun was shinning. The temperature hovered just above 80. The wind was calm. A perfect day on Lake Hopatcong for more than 50 riders and hundreds of spectators at the seventh annual Jersey Wakeoff at Lake Forest, Saturday, August 2.
“I don’t think I could be much happier,” said event coordinator Aaron Piemontesi who stepped into the roll after long-time event organizer Ryan Sorensen moved out of state. Sorensen’s family-owned marina, Lake Hopatcong Marine, again played a major roll in the wakeboard competition, partnering with Piemontesi for this year’s event.
Competition began early in the morning with the Kids Division, with the youngest competitor, six-year-old Ethan Barnette from Lake Hopatcong, wowing the crowd with a wave and a smile as he glided past the beach.
The competition was divided into seven divisions. The Advanced Division was the most crowed with 17 entrants, including Shaina Kassaleh, a 19-year-old who competes throughout the northeast and Florida. This is the first time at the Jersey Wakeoff a female has competed in any division other than the Girls Division or the Kids Division. Kassaleh finished in the 12 spot. Her brother Kyle placed third in the same division.
Seven men competed in the Outlaw Division, the toughest of all divisions, including Ryan Sorensen, who now lives in Colorado. Sorensen was back to enjoy the day as a competitor and a spectator and got the crowd whipped up with his antics in between tricks.
“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” he said. He placed fifth in the division.
Pro rider Jeff Langley from Orlando, FL., won the GoPole-sponsored $1000 first-place prize.
Other division winners were: Anna Prilutsky from West Milford in Kids, Trey Povanda from Pompton Plains in Novice, Barry Umbaugh from Gettysburg, PA in Masters, Ingrid Aldridge from Lake Hopatcong in Girls, Paul Schwesinger from Sparta in Intermediate, and Nick Foley from Dracut, MA in Advanced.
“This day turned out fantastic,” said Piemontesi. “The vendors are happy. I met some new people. I hope everyone else did the same. Plan on the same day next year,” he said with a smile.