When it comes to the growing sport of wake surfing, Ponoka’s Bailey Rush is making waves.
The youth just returned from the Centurion World Wake Surfing Championship in Kelowna, B.C. from Sept. 21 to 23 with a gold medal in the intermediate category. An accomplishment after only competing fairly recently.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, wake surfing is a sport where an athlete trails the wake of a speed boat, followed by tricks and skill demonstrations. The wake surfer does not hold on to a rope but rides the steep face below the wave’s peak, states a Wikipedia post.
Rush was spotted for her skills at a boat show and she started out competing in the grassroots program competing in the Alberta Wake Tour events. The fourth stop on the tour was provincials, where she placed well.
The 17-year-old then headed to the Canadian nationals championship in August where she placed first in wake surfing and second in skim boarding. That win earned her an invitation to the Centurion World Wake Surfing Championship.
“I placed first in surf,” said Rush.
She had to ensure a run met the DIVE (Difficulty, Intensity, Variation and Execution) criteria for judges. “There are typically three judges on each boat with a scribe calling tricks.”
Those judges call out the tricks Rush was to be judged on and she did well enough to garner that coveted first place for the amateur category.
“I wasn’t too nervous because I just love wake surfing,” said Rush of her experience from nationals and worlds.
“I just stay in a positive mindset,” she added of her focus.
She’s doing so well with the sport that next year she expects to enter into the Outlaw category, which is semi-professional. The next step would be to take on the professional circuit. It’s a growing sport with worlds bringing competitors from Japan, Russia and the United States, many of whom have professional coaches.
“There’s lots of tricks being invented and every year the level of difficulty gets increased,” said Rush of the sport’s future. “There’s lots of wake surfers getting better.”
She praised her father’s dedication for taking her out every morning to train on the lake. He uses a boat that creates the specific wave needed for wake surfing.
Rush says her parents spent their entire summer taking her to competitions while her father coached her.