Sheffield Cable host the cream of Students
What better way to finish off a cable/party biased fortnight then to move straight from Beach Break Live's 'Sand Sessions' straight on to Sheffield Cable Park who were once again the hosts of The Uniwake National Championship.
5 years after Uniwake became a certified and respected body focused on spreading the wakeboarding world to those joining universities. Supersaturated were approached to cover their events and provide custom clothing to not only some of the clubs but also for Uniwake themselves (check out the epic rider jerseys). Since the nationals started Sheffield has become a location that not only accepts Uniwake and its hord of student wakeboarders to their grounds but they set up and provide a full 5 days of grand hospitality where no one goes without great food or great riding or a great evening's entertainment.
Constantly improving their service. 5 days of amazing grub for all 80 students mixed with perfect grounds in the middle of Rother Valley Country Park (where no one can here them scream!) makes a perfect setting and a perfect reason for Uniwake to continue to return to this fine destination.
Riding standards continues to rise. Even within the year that Supersaturated have been sponsoring the body we have seen many riders move up the categories and broadening their range of skills and throw downs off the obstacles. Culminating in a test of their progression by entering into the final competition of the year. Everything up to this point has been a practice.
The beginning of the week started with two full days of free riding. A time for riders to get to grips with the cable and the various obstacles and practice a few lines and tricks which they want to stick in the main competition. Also a suitable amount of time for some nameless souls to shake off the Beach Break Live hangover and get their heads straight for the single most important examination of their skill versus their peers each year. Bar none.
A Big-Air competition started off the events with a pyramid system of progression. Round upon round of riders trying to out scale the other on the either of the two kickers in front of the spectator stands. This was followed by a Skate Jam. A turn up certainty for sponsored rider Simon Powel but for the others in the heat an even chance to get on the podium. With typically dependably glory hunting attitude James Whiting and Ash Colvin got their trays ready and tried their hands at getting round clean and hoping that the odd foot off, or small olly will sneak them into second!!
This just warmed the riders up to go into the qualifying stages of the finals. Every signed up rider was to ride 2 laps. starting at the 3rd corner and doing their laps in front of judges who would use a system of scoring unknown by this author but based on trick difficulty and trick execution to progress to the next days finals. Most riders choose to do a 'Safe lap' one where their trick selection wasn't at the limit of their skill, to be followed by a lap which pushed their limits. The judges would then choose the riders best lap and rank them accordingly.
Category A soon loomed, where the skill level is verging on pro-athlete in both men and women. Riders quite obviously haven't just taken to this sport but have been riding for a number of years. With Tom Taylor winning the Winter Jam earlier in the year, James Whiting the defending champion and the local Ben Jones all throwing some heavy laps in the last heats of the day. Everyone went to the bar to get drunk knowing that a competition was going to be ON!
A full nights entertainment followed by some classic bacon and egg buns set all athletes up for a good finals day. Two mini competitions served to warm the riders up ready for the big finals. Knee-boarding came and went with the familiar glory hunters! Although this might have more of a level playing field compared to the Simon dominated wake-skating, since specialist Pierre 'Le Baguette' Petit couldn't be present. That said the seriousness of Antoin's entry into the water served to show that it wasn't a joke to all and was all about winning (and maybe a little showing off)!! well that was until Simon Powell mis-understood 'knee-boarding' and stood up on his plank to start ollie'ing and almost kick-flipping his board hoping that this unorthodox style might gain favour with the judges.
With the rail jam quickly following for a chance for one rider to win one of the University of Supersaturated rider jerseys the main event closed in.
The finals became pretty tense. With each rider completing their laps with an ever increasing chorus of 'T90!!' from those supporters on the dock demanding the suicidal sacrifice of each rider as they came in from their lap. The louder the face plant the loader the cheer, and apparently the more likely the judges where going to favour your scores. Most of the comp had an air of fun and laughter about it. That was until the men's category A finals were scheduled. A tense affair not least made more that local rider, Ben Jones, was nailing his laps in the face of defending champion James not landing his most progressive tricks. James was just doing enough to get through the quarters and the supporters didn't really know who to cheer. The local rider, Ben, or the defending champion, James, who had now become the underdog.
With some spell binding riding between all involved in the final, it was clear one or the other would take it, and James Whiting was out before Ben, so had to muster a skilled performance that included his first completed back mobe of the day. With Ben all to play for, it was certain that if he would land his tricks no-one would have wanted to be the judges and as the previous day had shown Ben would have come out on top. Ben had probably been the most impressive rider of the two finals days. landing some serious flat water tricks after pressing some style on the rails. He led all heats on both days so it really was Ben's to loose. 3/4s of the way around the final lap of the day pushing his limits and tricks to hammer the final nail in Whiting's 'year on top' coffin, he fudged a landing. Sill hope hadn't left and with determination almost had himself on his back to twist round and right himself. However as the cable pulled and energy sapped Ben gave one final heartfelt wave to the crowd and released the cable, and with it the 1st place for 2012. Without question all who watched the final were on a knife edge. Two hugely talented riders split only by a hairsbreadth, a bit of fortune or maybe too much beer the night before.
Supersaturated look forward to developing our relationship with Uniwake and all those involved. Roll on 2013!!