'Wakestock' to make waves at Abu Dhabi Corniche

Watch out for gnarly grabs and faceplants when Abu Dhabi hosts 2010 Wakeboard World Series in March.

ABU DHABI // The capital will soon be treated to some sick air (good jumps) and gnarly grabs (cool tricks). Probably a few faceplants (wipeouts), too. That is because it was announced yesterday that Abu Dhabi would host one of the biggest events in professional wakeboarding, the 2010 Wakeboard World Series, known among the sport's aficianados as Wakestock. The three-day competition, which kicks off on March 4, will see some of the world's top wakeboarders, including the reigning champion Phillip Soven of the US, competing for US$50,000 (Dh184,000) in prize money.

The wakeboarders will show off their surfing-style tricks on boards made of honeycomb mixed with resin and fibreglass while being pulled by a speedboat across the water at speeds of around 40kph. The event will include an F1 FanZone-style venue and will be free to the public. The festival will also feature concerts by international and local musicians after the daily competition. After the sun goes down and the athletes have put down their boards, movies about the sport will be projected on to giant screens.

Before the competition, there will be a chance for the public to try out wakeboarding using a straight-line cable tow system powered by an electric motor. This will be set up by February 3 and there are plans to keep it on the Corniche after the contest. "It's an action sport, it's a young sport," said Mike Fairburn, the marketing director at Flash, the organisers. "The festival when it's held in the UK is a well-attended event. We also want families to come down from all areas of the community. That's why it's free and on the Corniche beach."

Mr Fairburn did not reveal which musicians would be performing, but said organisers had "approached UK indie bands, cutting-edge DJs, local talent, local DJs and local personalities that young people will relate to". Mark Durston, the founder of Wakestock, called the Corniche "one of the most amazing urban beaches". "From Lulu Island to the backdrop of the city itself, and the beautiful blue waters of the Arabian Gulf, I cannot imagine a more perfect setting," he said.