Giant Pool Gaps, Money Slams and Backflips Over Long Ships: 10 Crazy Things We Learned At Red Bull Harbour Reach

Some sick stuff went down when the world's best wakeboarders returned to Liverpool...

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Red Bull Harbour Reach brought a sick slopestyle track to the birthplace of The Beatles last weekend – and gave the world’s best wakeboarders a ticket to ride it.

There were big lines, big riding and all sorts of general bad-assery at the Albert Docks in Liverpool, but fear not if you missed it. We’ve rounded up the ten best things we learnt from the weekend up north…

1) 18 Year Old James Windsor Is The Main Man

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After claiming the Harbour Reach title last year, Aussie James Windsor was the man to beat last weekend as well.

It turned out that the rest of the field weren’t up to the task though, and James managed to hang on to his crown for another year.

Despite the teenager taking the top prize again, James Viscount Severn, the only son of Prince Edward, still comes up before him when you Google ‘James Windsor’. We hate the world sometimes.

2) There’s Money To Be Made From Massive Bails

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16 year old Daniel Grant took home the ‘crowd pleaser’ award and the £1,000 that comes with it after nailing a massive air en route to a hard hit from a barrel.

If there are two things crowds love, it’s big air and bigger bails, so needless to say this went down well. We hope he had a fake ID good enough to fool Liverpool’s bar staff. 

3) Ancient Long Ships Make Awesome Obstacles

Photo: Andrew Eddy/Hybrid Wake
Photo: Andrew Eddy/Hybrid Wake

The track lay out in Liverpool was absolutely insane. As well as a massive quarter pipe and a sweet pool gap, there was a sick kicker set up for riders to flip over an 100 year old long ship called the Glaciere of Liverpool.

We have no doubt that when the ship builders first built the boat back in 1914, they had similar plans for the vessel. Back-flipping Victorian style.

4) The Shit British Climate Makes Riding Worse

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This summer has been pretty sick in Britain, but now it seems we’re back to the usual rain and wind that so often ruins our lives.

To add insult to injury, it’s harder to wakeboard in this climate as well. Basically, cold water is hard water – and colder water keeps getting tougher until it freezes over.

This means you can’t shred in Liverpool as easily as you could in California. So things were a bit more difficult – and the slams were a bit more painful too!

5) Living On A Pirate Ship Would Be Badass

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When the press itinerary for Harbour Reach came in, one sentence in particular stood out: the media office ‘will be located on the ‘Zebu’ Pirate Ship’.

Sure enough, we ended up setting up base on a freakin’ pirate ship, complete with crew members in full gear, as pictured above. The upper deck was buzzing and the lower geared out with plenty of comfy gear. No sign of Jack Sparrow though. Or any rum for that matter.

6) Parks Bonifay Was A Judge At Harbour Reach!

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If you know only one rider in the world of wakeboarding, it’s probably Parks Bonifay. This guy was waterskiing when he was six months old and won the X Games when he was 14. FOURTEEN.

He’s been at the forefront of the sport for some time, and it’s sick to see him judging contests as well! A welcome addition to any wakeboarding set up… Stay tuned for our feature interview with Parks next week.

7) If You’re Going To Run A Good Wakeboard Event, You Need A Giant Collection Of Articulated Lorries

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Harbour Reach teamed up with Liquid Leisure Wake Park to bring a mahoosive pool gap, pictured above, into their event track – the only pool gap in the whole of the UK.

This thing is over 90ft long and is basically a giant pool of water with some sick touch ups. In order to get it to Albert Docks, Red Bull had to call in five giant lorries, so if you’re setting up a contest yourself, you’ll probably need more than your mate’s Ford Ka.

8) Wakeboarding Might Be In The Olympics Soon

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The progression of the cable system has revolutionised wakeboarding. It means you don’t need a boat to shred the water, and it lead to the sport being shortlisted for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Wakeboarding has since been dropped from that particular shortlist, but while Parks admits that it’s unlikely wakeboarding will be the first motor sport in the games, he is hoping it’ll make an appearance in the not so distant future.

9) We Don’t Have Enough Concrete To Make A Decent Wakeboard Course Stay In Place

You can imagine it takes a while to make a wakeboard course like this secure. In fact, it takes about two weeks, a whole lot of anchoring work and more than 40 tonnes of concrete.

Work hard, play hard. Certainly a mantra that the riders live by… Although their take on working hard is just wakeboarding and training to do so. Not like we’re jealous or anything…

10) 16 Year Old Daniel Grant Puts Us All To Shame

Living in Thailand but with links to the UK, 16 year old Daniel Grant is absolutely killing it on a wakeboard. The edit above makes that pretty clear.

The kid won Red Bull Wake of Steel in Austria this year, and he was a big favourite with the crowd, pulling some gargantuan flips off the XL kickers on the course.

He didn’t win this time around, but we don’t think he’ll be too disappointed having walked away with that £1,000 for the crowd pleaser award…

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