Forrest Evans

The Central Coast Association of Wakeboarders hosts its second annual GraduWAKEtion tournament this weekend, a refreshing option for sports enthusiasts who don’t want to ditch mom on Mother’s Day.

The event will feature an intercollegiate wakeboarding competition, vendor booths and a tri-tip barbeque, among other festivities.

“We wanted to make the Central Coast community aware of an often overlooked sport that’s on the rise, and do it by bringing an action sports environment to Lopez Lake as an event for the whole family,” said Jared Couch, the president of CCAW and a finance and accounting senior.

GraduWAKEtion will also feature a skateboard vert ramp, local band SIKO in concert, a rock-climbing wall, prize giveaways and a raffle to benefit cervical cancer research.

To further complement the family atmosphere of the event, several photographers will be on hand to cater to the Mother’s Day crowd with photo opportunities featuring Lopez Lake as a background.

“We’re looking to make the community realize that wakeboarding isn’t just a ‘college kid’ sport and bring some attention to the activity we’re passionate about, all while raising money for cervical cancer,” Couch said.

“The set-up for this year will allow people to see how the various board sports are related, with skate enthusiasts coming out to see the half-pipe but then getting turned on to wakeboarding, and vice versa.”

Mechanical engineering sophomore R.J. Atkinson, CCAW’s treasurer for the coming year, agreed the region could stand to benefit from heightening its statewide profile.

“Being on the Central Coast, we’re wedged in between two wakeboarding giants with northern and southern California on either side of us,” he said. “This event is a good way to let the wakeboarding community know that we’re out here, too.”

The wakeboarding competition is comprised of collegiate men’s and women’s divisions as well as open men’s and women’s divisions, and is expected to feature about 60 professional wakeboarders.

Athletes from Cuesta College, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, Long Beach State, Chico State and Sacramento State will also attend.

“This event really helped put the Central Coast wakeboarding scene on the map, and we’ve gotten a large response within the greater wakeboarding community as a result,” Couch said, alluding to a double-page spread last year’s event received in the October-November issue of Alliance Wakeboard magazine.

The CCAW is an independent, non-profit organization centered on introducing new people to wakeboarding and allowing present riders opportunities to make contacts and grow through the sport.

While the association is comprised mainly of Cal Poly students, it also has members who attend other colleges and others who have no university affiliation, but simply like to ride.

“I have wakeboarding to thank for all the better times in my life and for most of the connections that I have,” Couch said. “I think that a grassroots, action-packed event like this is a great way to get people out and not only support our sponsors, but wakeboarding in general as well as cervical cancer research.”

GraduWAKEtion begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at Lopez Lake. The event is free for all observers, and access to the lake costs $7.

“We’re going to be giving away tons of sick prizes, a lot of them costing well over a couple hundred dollars,” Atkinson said. “We’re looking to attract more people and trigger their giving side, because every little bit counts.”

Atkinson added the Mother’s Day weekend timing will make the event even more festive.

“This is going to be one kick-ass time at a family event, so bring mom,” he said. “What better way to spend Mother’s Day (than) out at the lake, relaxing on the sand, in the water or by rock-climbing? There’s going to be something for everyone.”

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