• WHAT: Pro Wakeboard competition featuring three divisions: Pro men, pro women and junior pro men.
• WHERE: Lathrop’s Mossdale Quarry Lakes at 96 W. Mossdale Road.
• WHEN: June 28-29. Qualifying and preliminary rounds begin at 8 a.m. on Friday. Preliminary rounds continue on Saturday. Finals set to begin at 3:30 p.m.
LATHROP – They don’t call him “Gnarly” for just any reason.
Perhaps, “King” better suits Harley Clifford, the 19-year-old virtuoso who has taken professional wakeboarding by storm.
Will Lathrop’s Mossdale Quarry Lakes be the site of his next triumph?
Clifford has won more than 20 major events since turning pro at the tender age of 15 in 2009, defying naysayers who said the Australian was too young to rip and flip amongst the world’s best.
Look at him now.
Clifford hushed his critics with a rare double during his rookie season, winning both the Australian and U.S. Pro tours. Since then, he’s been a clear-cut favorite in virtually every event he’s entered.
Clifford currently sits atop the King of Wake 2013 standings with 280 points through three events, 15 points clear of WWA Wakeboard World No. 1 Phillip Soven.
The two finished in that order at the series’ last stop in Mooresville, N.C. on June 1.
Clifford pieced together a flawless final run, combining say-what aerials with smooth rail riding to edge Soven and third-place finisher Andrew Adkison.
Wearing a yellow jersey and black Monster helmet, Clifford put on a dizzying display, flipping and twirling over the wake. For good measure – and serious style points – the 5-foot-7, 155-pounder mixed in a few grabs, too.
For the novice, the tricks are as hard to identify and call out as they are to perform. Heelside 900. Toeside 900. Toe Grab KGB. Bronco 540. The Blind Pete Rose.
Clifford has them all in his bag of tricks, many of which were on display during his victory in North Carolina.
“It feels great to get a win today,” he told Transworld Wakeboarding. “The whole contest saw some incredible riding. The venue was awesome and now I’m looking forward to the next (Pro Wakeboarding Tour) stop.”
Head west, young man.
The King of Wake 2013 series invades Lathrop’s Mossdale Quarry Lakes on June 28-29, bringing the world’s top wakeboarders across three divisions to the Central Valley.
The competition is the fourth in the series’ eight schedules stops, and it begins on Friday morning with the junior pro men’s quarterfinals at 8 o’clock and the pro women semifinals at 10:30.
Clifford and the other pro men will carry the day with five hours of qualifying beginning at noon.
Saturday gets underway with the pro men’s quarterfinals (10 a.m.) and semifinals (2 p.m.) sandwiched around the junior pro men’s semifinals (1 p.m.).
The final rounds begin at 3:30 p.m. with the junior pro men. Pro women finalists take the water at 4. The pro men final is slated for 4:30.
The event concludes with the Polaroid Action Big Air Kicker Contest from 5:30-6 p.m. and the awards ceremony on site.
King of Wake will provide Mossdale Quarry Lake and the surrounding area with unique national exposure.
NBC Sports Network will televise the two-day competition, promising “unprecedented access to all the action on the water, with in-depth profiles of all the best riders.”
The cable network is distributed throughout the country, reaching more than 75 million homes.
Watch for Clifford, the fifth-year pro with the skater-boy haircut executing skater-boy tricks across the wake.
They call him “Gnarly.”
– James Burns