Blue skies and calm waters set the stage to kick off the Red Bull Wake Open on Thursday, starting with the Boat event towed by a Malibu Wakesetter MXZ. Red Bull chose a scenic mining location north of Tampa, Florida with fresh, blue/green water and white sand beaches.
A new format was implemented, which gave riders two passes, and their best five-trick pass would be scored. With plenty of room to land five tricks comfortably, this format encouraged style, individualism and huge airs into the flats. One requirement changed this event in a big way; riders had to include one trick consisting of a 360 or less. We saw lots of stylish straight airs, backside 180’s and boned out 3’s, all way into the flats.
Arriving straight from Australia, just in time for the event, Harley Clifford was adapting well to the new format, starting out his finals run with a massive stalefish backside 360. “Yeah, the format was sick and it was cool to see everyone’s different airs. Rusty [Malinoski] was doing that rad melon to indy backside 180, and just everyone was mixing it up.”
Adam Errington also launched the biggest airs of the day, boosting a nose/indy backside 180, and a crazy heelside 360 rewind. All the riding was captured with the best high-speed action cameras in the world and the footage aired live on NBC as part of the Red Bull Signature Series last Saturday.
The four-man final consisted of Harley, Rusty, Adam and Raphael Derome. Taking third, Raphael was really pumped considering this was a huge score to add to his odds of winning the coveted overall title with Big Air and Park events remaining. Rusty looked really strong all day and had an unfortunate crash on his huge stale roll to blind. That may have been the deal breaker that landed Rusty in second behind Harley Clifford’s five-trick banger pass and double up.
Harley was super pumped on the Boat event and has a great perspective on the remaining events, “This really pumped me up to try and do well in Big Air and Park, which is an environment I don’t normally compete in, but it’s going to be really fun.”
1. Harley Clifford (AUS)
2. Rusty Malinoski (CAN)
3. Raphael Derome (CAN)
4. Adam Errington (SCT)