Arts & Entertainment

Contestants to flip, spin their way toward $1,000

Go down to the east end of Columbia Park on Aug. 15 and you could see a batwing, butter slide, scarecrow or Tweety Bird.

No, it's not a nature hike.

It's the Wake the Desert wakeboarding competition.

For those nonaquatic folk who have no idea what a wakeboard is, picture someone standing on a foot-wide oblong board, much like a snowboard, hanging onto a ski rope being pulled behind a power boat.

The sport combines maneuvers from snowboarding, skiing and surfing while spinning and flipping at speeds up to 24 mph.

Competitors have 4 minutes to soar to daring heights, demonstrate technical difficulty and exhibit their personal style on a 4- to 5-foot-long board.

And like many sports, wakeboarding comes with its own terms -- from a Tootsie Roll to a tantrum and a 911 -- for the various moves and tricks. The butter slide, for example, involves snapping the board sideways and riding on top of the wake.

Organizers say it's expected to be the largest wakeboarding competition to hit town.

About 60 competitors from throughout the region are expected. Wake the Desert is the final part of a three-event series that included stops in Coeur d'Alene and Ione, Wash.

But you don't have to be an expert boarder to join in, said organizer Joel Smeby.

"Most people don't think they're good enough to compete in a competition," Smeby said. "But with five divisions there is something for everyone. If you can go wake to wake (in beginner division) you have a chance to take home some great prizes."

A cash prize of $1,000 will be divided among first-, second- and third-place overall winners. Consolation prizes also will be awarded in all divisions.

The event is at Wye Park along the Columbia River near Bateman Island.

Registration is from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Aug. 15, with competition starting at 10 a.m. Registration is $40. Spectators can watch for free. Depending on the number of participants, it could last until about 7 p.m.

Sundown Sport & Marine in Richland is sponsoring the event along with Rockstar energy drink.

Kimo's restaurant and lounge will have a beer garden set up at the competition at Wye Park along with other food vendors.

More information is available at Sundown Sport, 1238 Columbia Park Trail or call 783-1649.