International wakeboarding competition underway in Valdosta

Over 60 competitors from across the globe are competing for a chance at the Wakeboard Championship right here in Lowndes County.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:37 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:26 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Over 60 athletes and spectators from across the globe are in Valdosta for an annual wakeboarding competition. When you think of Valdosta, wakeboarding may not be the very first thing that comes to your mind, but according to these international athletes, Lowndes County has one the best courses in the entire world.

The International Wakeboarding Competition Yardsale will include some South Georgia legends.

“It really just doesn’t get any better than it is. People don’t really know what’s going on in this bubble like it’s pretty insane the amount of talented athletes that are here,” Luke Griffin. an employee said.

Saturday, Sept. 16. marks the final day of the competition. Over the past five years, organizers have been improving the course to attract athletes from different countries including England, France, Germany and even the Netherlands.

“The wakeboarding industry is wild, and it’s kind of a big name and I like for the community to see how we made kind of a stamp on the world from here in Valdosta, Georgia,” competition co-founder Luke Tilt said.

WWA Junior Professional World Champion Rudy Talboys says Valdosta has one of the best wakeboarding courses because of its innovative ideas and creative setup.

“Usually with wakeboarding, you’ve got regular plastic molded rails and stuff like that, which are kind of similar throughout the whole world and every wake park has them. And then you come here, and you’ve got rails made out of bricks, water containers, propane tanks, it’s definitely a different experience,” Talboys said.

Even if you’re not a competition wakeboarder, there is a course set up here for people who just want to try wakeboarding for the very first time or for those who did not make it to the semifinals.

“This place is unreal it’s a playground.” Kenji Breitenbucher, a competitor from Sacramento, California said.

“Parks are definitely not like this out by us, but it is sick to see that they have more variations. We’re out kind of by the mountains, so we don’t get use it all season,” Nikko Kimbrough, a competitor from Chicago, Illinois, said.

“You can travel too. It’s best for the off-season and it’s nice and warm,” Anthony Martinez, another competitor from Sacramento, California, said.

Over 60 competitors from across the globe are competing for a chance at the Wakeboard Championship right here in Lowndes County.

“Evidently, that’s why everybody’s turned up from London, Germany, Thailand, everyone’s come here just for the event, and it’s a reason and that’s cause it’s the best place,” Talboys said.

“Being from Albany myself, you don’t get a whole lot of exposure to the board sports or the board culture, and the fact that it’s here and it’s so rich, it’s just something that’s pretty impressive. And I don’t think a lot of folks realize that in town,” Griffin said.

The course that you see behind me is the competition course and this is where athletes get a chance to go head-to-head with a chance of advancing in the semi-finals.

Tilt says not only does wakeboarding bring competitors from across the globe, but it also brings added revenue to the city of Valdosta.

“We have 150 Europeans here right now and they’re all over the town. They’re staying in the Airbnbs, in hotels and eating at all the restaurants. We have the food trucks coming out, we have something going on all the time, so people that want to come and spectate can also come and wakeboard as well,” Tilt said.

For Lowndes County residents who do want to get into wakeboarding, they are open up year-round and they also have summer camps for your little kiddies.