Well, another great year for the Grayland Open is in the books! It was a pretty crazy weekend filled with excitement good times and a little bit of crazy Northwest weather!
The weekend kicked off on Thursday with crews of volunteers setting up the event and getting our staging area looking good for the production crew that flew up from Athletes in Motion Sports Television to film the event for ESPN, Comcast Sports Network, Untamed Sports and MavTV. This is the first year that the Grayland Open has had television coverage and we were excited to showcase the sport through the event coverage.
The event set up turned out great as we blocked off a large area filled with vendors, security, riders and a staging area for awards and photos. The Bogwater Brewery would be one of our main sponsors and provided a great venue for us to camp, eat and hang out for the entire weekend at their place of business.
We kicked off Friday morning with some more people showing up to hang out get acquainted and a really great turn out of riders to discuss tricks with the pros and go out and ride most of the day in the sunny weather for the rider clinic. I personally had my first opportunity to ride a Tigercraft Aquabot thanks to my friend Pete McAfee. What a fun ski, in fact I only brought it back to shore because I had burned through a tank of fuel and the fire breathing 1000cc DASA needed to be fed.
We had a really fun day of freeride and training and by the end of the day everyone was pretty pumped to start the competition on Saturday. With all the new faces and young riders that were at the clinic, even the pros were pumped to see who would come out on top in the Rookie and Amateur classes.
The next morning was hectic as we registered riders, set up the tournament and got in place to get things under way for the Masters, Rookie and Amateur classes. As we burned through some heats there were some riders that stood out for their style and amplitude. Chris Grace and Cameron White both riding for Krash Industries on their Predators were sending some nice aerials whiles also staying busy in the waves. Brian Beurassa and James Juvet were hanging out some big tricks including flips and rolls with variation in some tough conditions.
Rookie class rider Sean Starr would impress the judges consistently with his surfer style slashes and big can re-entries and nose stabs; 13-year-old west coast surf rider, Joe Smith out of Crescent City, California impressed everyone with his strong riding skills at such a young age. Brook Gronemeyer, also a young rider out of Courtenay, British Columbia was impressive on his 550 all weekend until he basically broke it in half.
As we moved in to midday on Saturday, the clouds rolled in and the wind and rain began. That’s that Northwest weather. Kudos to all the riders, to Mark Gomez announcing, Nick Barton judging and Nick Foster Logistics in the tower for pushing through the rough patch of weather that we had that day. I don’t think it could have been worse but we charged through it and got the heats finished that needed to get done.
The Rookie and Amateur semi finals/finals, sitdown class, Pro class and Pro Jam were held over until Sunday. That night we all headed back to the Bogwater Brewery for some live reggae rock music by Big Blue Van and had a great time under the big tent. Lifetime memories were made for sure that evening.
Sunday morning, the sun came out and everyone was in good spirits as the crowds grew for the final day of competition. We cranked up the music and went to work impressing the crowds with the best riders of the weekend. Our top Amateur and Rookie riders took advantage of some much better weather and surf condition and really went for it to find their places on the podium. Chris Grace and James Juvet would be the final heat in the Amateur class and they both let it all hang out with all they had in there arsenal. Chris was the victor throwing Madonna flips, rolls and showing some great surf ability.
In the Pro class, we had Abraham Ho absolutely sending it and showing everyone why he is one of the top freeriders in the world. Randy Lawlor did what the Lawlors do and sent it into orbit again and again throughout his heats, making tough work for his opponents. Christian Young, who has come back to competition after a little break, is looking better than ever. Christian was looking buttery smooth with every trick throwing some of the most technical tricks in the book during his heats. Guillermo Casas was looking great on a borrowed ski competing against all the top riders in the US and abroad.
In the Sitdown class, Zack Bright was killing it on his Krash Industries Reaper and gave the younger riders a taste of what the top pro riders in the world can throw down. Zack also had some nice barrel roll re-entries, monster flips with variation and No Can Do’s during his heats in the stand up class. Gomez busted out some superflips, double-can superflips and just about every other trick in the book to barely edge out Zack in the final round by just one point!
We finished all the heats and went straight in to the Pro Jam, which is a 15 minute session with the Top 8 riders of the weekend to just go out and huck it! No pressure, no head-to-head, just go out and go as big as you can to impress the judges. As Tanner Thomas called it on the mic, “This is the firework show.”
There were three or four guys flipping from the same wave. So many things going on all over the place at the same time that we could not keep up with calling all the tricks. It was the highlight of the riding for the weekend for sure! Christian Young came out on top by unanimous decision from the judges for thrusting his Thrust Innovations-built Superfreak into the clouds. I actually thought he might make it rain again.
It was really awesome to see a whole bunch of new faces this year. We had 47 competitors in total, which is the most we have ever had. We had riders from all over the country, as well as a few from outside our borders. A special thanks to James Juvett for making the drive all the way across the country from New York to compete! I’m sure you’ve made the rest of the Rag Tag Freeriders proud.
Another big thank you goes out to all of our sponsors for continuing to make this event special for the riders by making it possible and sending them home with some great prizes every year. Thank you to our top sponsors this year: Morgan Industries, Liquid Militia, Blowsion, Bogwater Brewery and Krash Industries.
A very special thank you also goes out to the people that really stepped up this year to organize the event. Chris Tiffany and his family of the Bogwater Brewery and Chris Farrell and his family of Farrell Fab went the extra mile this year by co-organizing with me all year in the planning and execution of the event. These guys spent countless hours and personal money to really build this year up.
The Grayland Open would not have been so well done this year without their help as well as many others that volunteered their time and efforts to help grow the sport and create an awesome event for the up and coming riders to compete at and gain some much deserved recognition for their talents. Awesome event this year! We’ll get the dates out and the you tube link up for the television production as soon as it’s ready. See you next year!