“You’ll probably see a couple of different kickers, nines, people trying 1080s, and a bunch of different double flips,” says JD Webb, previewing the competition for next week’s Big Air event at the Red Bull Wake Open, held July 12-14 in Tampa, Florida. The three-day event, which viewers can watch on NBC July 14 from 1-3 PM EST, will combine more than 20 events in Park, Boat, and Big Air disciplines and will ultimately crown the world’s best wakeboarder.
Unlike the old days, when wakeboarders needed a glossy lake and a power boat to get high—off the water, that is—competitors in the Big Wave competition will be pulled by a new Sesitec System 2.0, an environmentally friendly cableway, that Red Bull will set up in the bay in front of the Tampa Convention Center.
“It’s a lot more fun for the crowd to watch this way,” says Webb. Plus, it amps up the speed—a boat pulls a boarder at roughly 23 miles per hour, but the improved cable system can pull boarders at 30 mph—making for more spectacular feats off the 50-foot ramp.
For Webb to win the competition, he’s going to need to land his double-half cab roll, where, off the top of the kicker, he does two back flips while grabbing the board between his feet in a mute grab.
They all make it look so easy. But spectators, keep this in mind:
“We don’t have a down ramp,” says Webb. “So we go from 25 feet in the air and 60 to 90 feet long and we’re landing on flat water. We don’t have that cushion, that transition to land on. I wouldn’t say it’s the softest landing, but just being up in the air for that amount of time, and putting your own style into the trick is definitely one of the funnest feelings there is.”