A surfing competition will be held in Chattanooga next weekend. Yes, really.
Erwin Marine Sales will host the first event of its kind in the Scenic City at Erwin Marine Sales at Chickamauga Marina around 9 a.m. June 2. The event is expected to last most of the day.
"For people who aren't familiar with wake surfing, we're hoping to get them introduced to the sport," Erwin Marine Sales representative Michael Porter said. "It's literally surfing. Erase water skiing, forget wake boarding. This is literally surfing. We're bringing a Hawaii wave to the Tennessee River. That's what these boats do. These boats are built for this."
The Heyday WT-Surf boat is designed specifically to create wake for surfing, boarding and more. The extended seats in the back separated by a large middle console keep the boat's weight toward the stern, constantly creating curling waves surfers can ride for several minutes. The design, with additional seating in the front, make the specialty boat usable for family boating trips, tubing, wakeboarding and surfing. The constant waves tend to be on the smaller side but are created to be similar to those found in the ocean.
The boat is marketed as a cheaper alternative to other surf boats. It cuts out modern technological gadgets for what Porter calls "old school technology that works and works great." The Knoxville-based boat company is sponsoring the competition — officially called the Heyday Surf Competition 2018 — and winners will receive a surfboard. The boards used for wake surfing also are unique, often shorter and thinner than a typical ocean surfboard to maximize performance on lake wake.
The event will be geared toward beginners. There is no professional category in the competition — only beginner and intermediate. Event organizers want to feature people just learning the sport to spark interest and introduce the sport to the public. Organizers and lake surfers said they have seen the sport growing in popularity on lakes and rivers because it is much easier on the body than wake boarding, where participants hold onto a rope throughout the ride and travel at a faster speed.
One competitor will be Sequatchie, Tennessee, resident Troy Roberts, unless his wife — who is expecting their second child soon — goes into labor.
Roberts, with some recreational experience, could be one of the more experienced surfers in the field.
"I don't do it much, but I did do it back before wake surf boards were a thing," Roberts said. "We used to grab a surf, freestyle surf board and surf behind regular power boats on the Tennessee River. We would pile up four people in the back corner of a boat, and it would put a big wave off to the one side. We would do that. We were like the first people surfing down the Tennessee River."
Registration is available online at dockline news.com/surf/ or by calling Porter at 423-622-1978.