There certainly was talk from spectators about the tricks being performed by the wakeboarders on the lake but most of the chatter was about the wind. It was steady from the north, cold, and all day. Still, on a very sunny Saturday, the fifth annual Jersey Wakeoff drew 62 competitors in eight divisions and close to 900 spectators to the beach at the Lake Forest Yacht Club in Jefferson.
Nick Poulin from Manchester, New Hampshire, won the grand prize of $1000. He was the last competitor of the day to ride the wake, finishing just before the sun set behind the hills of Hopatcong.
Winners of the other divisions were: Arden Kassaleh in the Kids division, David Prilutsky in the Novice division, Thomas Povanda in the Masters division, Ashley Dorn in the Girls division, Darren Hendershot in the Intermediate division, Forrest Stern in the Wakeskate division, and Daniel Bentson in the Advanced division. Winners in each division received a certificate for free admission into next year’s wakeoff and a pair of wood sunglasses. As the winner of the Advanced division, Bentson also won a camera from GoPro and a $200 check.
Midway through the day, the crowd was treated to a wakeskate show by professional wakeskater Danny Hampson. A Liquid Force sponsored rider, Hampson attemped numerous tricks off the ramp located in the swim area in front of the beach. Wakeskater boards do not have attached boots. Riders wear only tennis shoes and ride the waves (or jump the ramp) as if they were on a skate board.
White caps greeted the morning sessions, including the Kids, Novice, Masters and Girls groups. By the afternoon, the lake was still very choppy but at least the white caps subsided.
“Everyone is riding about 60% of their potential because of the wind,” said event organizer Ryan Sorensen midway through the afternoon. “But they’re all making the best of it anyway.”
“Conditions are pretty bad today but it’s no reflection on the event. It’s Mother Nature—we have no control over it at events like this,” said Michael Levinson, 26, from Lake Hopatcong.
Levinson competed in the Advanced division, landing a back roll, a Tantrum and an Air Raley. He’s been wakeboarding since he was 12 and has competed in each of the five Jersey Wakeoff competitions, winning the Intermediate division back in 2008, the first year of the event.
Brian Van Hoorebeke, 18 from Long Valley, competed in the Novice division early in the morning.
“Yea, it was a little choppy, a little windy,” he said wryly. Van Hoorebeke landed all of his tricks, including a 180, a Tantrum and some board grabs. He placed second in his division.
Van Hoorebeke’s buddy, Mark Kramaritsch, 24 from Budd Lake, competed in the Advanced division and thought he did pretty well. But he paid the price. After landing a Tantrum, a Back Roll and a back 360, Kramaritsch landed awkwardly after attempting a Scare Crow and came out of the water limping with a bum left knee.
“It was still a good day though. Lots of friends, lots of fun,” said Kramaritsch.
The wind definitely affected the spectators lined up on the beach. Early on, most were bundled in sweatshirts or wrapped in blankets. By mid-afternoon though, the spectators on the beach were warmed by the sun, the food and the beverages available from local vendors. The band, The Rose Riot played for about an hour late in the afternoon.
The event wrapped up after dark, a few hours later than expected, mostly due to the choppiness of the water and the difficulty the tow boat had getting to competitors in the open water.