EXCLUSIVE: What Wakestock Means To Me

There are certain things in life that just go together, like peanut butter and jelly, or wine and cheese. The 2011 WAKESTOCK ACTION SPORTS AND MUSIC FESTIVAL proved that music and extreme sports are just as much of a natural fit. The three-day weekend brought thousands of people to Collingwood’s Millenium Park to enjoy the competition on the water, live sets and of course, the beer tent.

Behind the scenes, the main highlight was the riders that participated, coming from far away lands (e.g. Australia) and some not so far away (e.g. Barrie) just to shred the open lake. During WAKESTOCK 2011, we caught up with some of the athletes to get their views on the event, why it’s particularly significant to them in their own personal way and why they think it’s getting better with every passing year.

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ROBBIE MCMILLAN / PRO WAKEBOARD (BARRIE, ON)

A bright young lady once said, “There’s no place like home,” and 12-year Wakestock veteran Robbie McMillan understands this all too well. “It’s cool that Wakestock’s near home as I’m from Barrie and I have a cottage in Muskoka which is nearby. I started Wakeboarding when I was really young, and this was one of the first contests I ever came to and I’ve been here every year since I was six years old. I really like how my friends can come out and watch and see what I do and stuff because they can’t really come to other contests”.

Though friendship is important to McMillan, he knows growth holds the same amount of significance to riders and fans that attend Wakestock. “Every year it just gets better and better. I remember when I was little, I always used to try to get everyone’s autographs. One year someone gave me a bib and I got everyone – especially a lot of riders – to sign it and I still have it to this day.”

“But also, the first Wakestock I ever went to, I was up on my Dad’s shoulders and the bikini contest came on and this one girl flashed the crowd. I was six years old, it was awesome. My Dad tried to cover my eyes, but I saw anyways. That was awesome – my first Wakestock, my first boob.”

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CHRIS SINKIC / PRO WAKEBOARD (BARRIE, ON)

Having grown up around the sport, Chris Sinkic has a different perspective on Wakestock than your average competitor; he’s spent two of his six years at the event helping promote an independent clothing brand as well as competing. ”I’ve always been a rider and when I hooked up with Metab Clothing Co., it was cool to get a different perspective. Every weekend during the summer there’s a wakeboard competition, but I look forward to this one every year because its just such a big one and there’s so many people; I love being a part of it”.

But aside from the flips, grabs and airs, Sinkic explains his favourite part of the experience each year is in fact the music. “I love the bands. It’s great to be able to get up close and personal with them right in front of you. But just like the Wakestock posters usually say – ‘Boats, babes and bands!’”

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BOB SOVEN / PRO WAKEBOARD (LONGWOOD, FL)

As the defending champion of 2010’s trophy (ahem – belt) for the men’s pro wakeboarding category, Bob Soven has a lot of priorities in life. Among them are improving his repertoire of dance moves, maintaining good dental hygiene and “being Bob” as well as the self-proclaimed “Sultan Of The People”. Aside from the wakeboarding skills he evidently hones (“I hold the belt, it’s right above my bed”), he’s also got a sense of humour, one that’s channeled through his story of how he lost his “v-card” at Wakestock and why he has to be here.

“I love that I have to be here. It’s because of Monster Energy Drink, but I love that because this is actually considered one of my top priorities for my job. This is work, but I’m not working”. After a bit of insight into one of his favourite Wakestock memories – last year’s post-victory celebration with his fellow competitors – Soven insisted that it’s the good times and the ability to do things he likes that brings him back each year. “Mountain biking keeps me coming back every year. It’s the good times,”. We told you he had a sense of humour.

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TOMMY BAILEY / PRO WAKESKATE (HALIBURTON, ON)

Though not new to Wakestock, 2011 was Tom Bailey’s first year competing in the pro division, complete with “VIP access and everything”. Passionate about his sport, Bailey looks past all the bells and whistles the event incorporates as his main focus is the experience of riding. “Its always cool to see the riding levels; everyone just seems to get better and better every year, throwing crazier stuff out there. It’s fun to ride with guys you don’t get to ride with.”

Aside from getting the crowd excited by landing great tricks in optimal locations within the riding area, Bailey is proud of exceeding his own expectations and continuing friendships with other athletes. “I was super excited to ride with all the pros who came up from Florida to see how I compare. I made it through the quarter-finals and advanced to the semi-finals and I actually beat out someone who I thought I had no chance of beating, so that was pretty sweet,”.

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JAMES BALZER / PRO WAKESKATE (LANGLEY, BC)

“I realized that I had the opportunity to ride at this level and turn it into a career, so when the doors started opening I had to take full advantage of it.” Some people know a good opportunity when they see one, and James Balzer is one of them. The Langley-born athlete recognizes that events like Wakestock help enable him to do what he loves. “It’s just awesome to be at Wakestock and watch it grow and to come out here and ride. It’s pretty much the biggest contest we have for wakeskating, and it’s in Canada, so it’s awesome to have.”

After six years of competing at Wakestock, Balzer certainly knows what it’s all about and notes the tie between extreme sports and music is more vital than most people know. “You’ve got bands and other stuff going on, so it brings out a different group of spectators, which just helps the sport grow. You have the best riders in the world and such wicked concerts – they just go hand in hand,”.

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