This is the full story and coverage of this event from my abbreviated write up in the Feb/March Issue of ProRider Magazine. Thank you to any ProRider readers for taking the time to come here after reading the article! If you did not see the Argentina Freeride article I wrote from this event, visit ProRider Magazine and subscribe today!
At the end of October Pro Freerider Zack Bright and I were invited to Argentina to be special guests at their annual freeride nationals event In the summer city of Villa Gesell. This event was sparked back in 2009 when Ross Champion was invited to help get the first freeride event together in Argentina. The event is put together by a team of the most kind and hospitable guys Pablo Wolf and Harry Puddu. Pablo Wolf is the best Dentist in the town of Villa Gesell who is close friends will all of the town officials. Pablo is the one who funded Zack and my travel as well as all of our hotel and amenities to and from Argentina. On top of that Pablo is able to put everything together with his connections in Gesell. Harry Puddu works as a Travel agent, he plays just as big of a role by being able to communicate in some English with us, completely arrange our travel plans and hotels, as well as being an organizer and announcer at the event in Gesell. These two guys really make it all happen with up most integrity and I am so thankful for their friendship and support out of this event.
Our adventure began from LAX international Airport and then 15 hours later landing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Zack Bright brought his girlfriend Kristen Escobar and I traveled with my girlfriend Bianca Reyna. Bianca’s entire family is from Argentina, so despite her saving the entire trip for us non Spanish speakers with flawless translation, she really made the trip special pointing out everything about the Argentine culture that means so much to her. When we arrived in Argentina, Harry Puddu picked us all up and drove us to our first hotel smack dab in the middle of Buenas Aires with our hotel room window overlooking the “Obelisco” monument and down town district. We all took some time to settle some things in from the flight and we drove to the local river to meet up with everyone and ride our skis for the first time.
This is where we met Maxi Sieburger of Jetmotion who had built his own new short style hull for Zack to use. This ski was also ridden by Pierre Maxient who was in town just 2 weeks before this event. I then met up with my crew of friends from a small garage band like group of supporters called Radical Jet ski. My friends Rodry Duran, Mai Adams, Luis Corti, and Leo Gomez who built my ski all have day jobs, yet came together to build me a superjet so close to my own just out of their sheer support for me. I was blown away because the ski came out great, it handled extremely well for me, and was just really an awesome ski all together. We all mounted our skis and took an over 8 mile ride up the river with two big boats providing a few hours of double boat wake action for us all to rip on. This was Zack and my first experience with the double boat wake situation, yet Zack and local rider Mariano Riva killed it stomping huge back flip variations. We pulled over to a nice sandy beach in front of a small river side store which had $2.50 liter bottles of beer and fresh sandwiches which we enjoyed for about an hour.
On our way back, the double boat wake session continued. Just past the half way point when we thought it couldn’t get much better, Mariano waved Zack and I over to follow him. We peeled away from the group and the boats that were heading back. What began as some light carving fun toward the edge of the river, ducking under tree branches, and jumping over logs quickly peeled off into this tight swamp forest like reed trail. This was the most epic carving course I have ever ridden in my life. For 2 miles we were near full throttle to stay moving in murky ankle to knee high creature friendly water. We were carving left and right navigating through tight spaces of water, diving into the tray just to make it under tree branches, hopping over countless sections on lily pads praying that your intake would stay clear, then making a screaming right turn in front of a forest-man’s shack who ran toward us with angry blood thirsty eyes and a rock in hand! In the middle of it all I hit my reserve tank which built the adrenaline and “oh S&!%” Factor of not wanting to get stuck, not knowing how much further we were going on some secluded reed trail in a foreign country with the potential of some jungle living dudes trying wanting to kill you! Fortunately just a few more turns later we peeled off the trail screaming with adrenaline seeing that we all made it out alive heading back toward the main river canal. As I wondered where we were now after such an epic adventure, just as we were entering the main body of water I looked over to my right toward Mariano Riva. He grinned at me as he raised his right hand out toward the our crew 2 boats with the double boat wakes still pumping ready for some last few jumps. That was pretty much the most epic “Welcome to Argentina” moment any jet skier could ever experience!
Just as we cleaned up and got into the cars to leave the harbor, a massive thunderstorm appeared with torrential downpour. We drove through some flooded streets with some gnarly thunder cracking left and right until we arrived at Maxi’s house. The weather miraculously cleared just as Maxi opened his back yard door to extend our welcoming day with the use of his heated pool, cool drinks, and some of the best meats I have ever had that he cooked, “Asado” which is when the meats slowly cooked for a few hours over open fire and smoldering embers in a big smoker next to the pool. All in all, our first day in Argentina didn’t suck!
The next day we made the 4 hour drive to Villa Gesell, a seasonal beach side city which swarms with visitors during the Argentine summer months of January and February. We arrived at the 5 star hotel which Pablo set us up with which was incredibly nice. About an hour later we all made our way downstairs into the hotel banquet room where there was a large press conference like table which Zack and I sat at with all of the event officials including the Mayor of Villa Gesell. It was an slightly awkward press conference for us, being that Zack did not know much Spanish, and I of coarse being the whitest non Spanish speaking Gomez there is to know. We scraped by with the translation help of Harry Puddu and were never the less welcomed to the city by the Mayor and his councilmen. We all walked from the hotel to enjoy some rather interesting sea food samplers at a local restaurant where we convened until almost 3am. The crazy part about Argentina is that even at 3am, they are all just getting started. Kids as young as 3 years old were running around and the streets and shops are as busy as 7pm Friday night peak at most down town shopping malls in the US! Pablo and his wife drove us out into the Gesell sand dudes where we gazed the moon lit sand dunes and the rather flat ocean of the Argentine coast.
The next morning we woke up “early” at 9am to get to the event site where Zack and I prepared our skis with the final sponsor logos and touches to kick the event off. We were sent out to put on a world champion show in very small shallow surf. Having a stock superjet hull without trim, I chose to do what I do best and surfed the hell out of every small set that came my way. Zack Bright did what he does best and absolutely killed it in the air on the shorter Maxi built hull, pulling off tons of back flip variations and rolls which really got the crowd fired up. Between the two of us, the people were really excited about the show as both Zack and I were swarmed by people wanting to take photos with their kids and some wanting to speak to us which did not go so well with the language barrier.
Over the next 2 days and between our riding sessions, Zack Bright, Argentine rider Christian Creuso, and I served as judges for their freeride contest split into an Amateur and Pro division. The contest was judged %50 Surf and %50 jumps and tricks. Despite the small surf, the riders there did very well. Many riders were going for barrel rolls and performing all kinds of great variations during straight jumps. The Amateurs who came out on top was 3rd placeman Cali Dipascua, 2nd placeman Nico Grafunkel, and Amateur Freeride Champion Matias Pallaoro. In the pro class, the riders who came out on top was 3rd placemen Emir Goñi , and a close final heat with 2nd place Juan Salicaro and Pro Freeride Champion Hernan Molina. These guys all rode really well. I saw lots of great barrel roll variations, and even a hand full of flips from the pro heats. Even with the consistent small waves, their surf scores were not very high. I am now extremely motivated to learn Spanish so that I may hopefully be able to come back help coach some of these guys, to be able help them achieve higher surf scores and techniques.
That night Bianca and I spread out all of the product I had smuggled into the country onto our hotel room bed and opened up our, “Kiosko” which are much like low key 7-11’s on every corner here in the US. Our Kiosko had tons of discounted products consisting of Liquid Militia Clothing, Bomber Floating Eyewear, Tomski Front footholds, WatCon hood seals, and tons of giveaways. Everyone who shopped left with giveaways such as, key chains from Hydro-Turf, ProRider Magazines, Signed posters from Zack and I, and tons of Stickers from Hydro-Turf, Liquid Militia, Bomber Floating Eyewear, Kommander Industries, Cold Fusion, WatCon, and many more. Everyone was super excited to get these parts and products.
On the second day after the freeride finals there was some great Motosurf Racing for one of their Argentine national race tour stops. I had mentioned to some of my friends the night before that I would be interested in racing. Sure enough the next day racer Luisito Velay approached Harry and told him that I was welcome to race his 2009 Stock spec Yamaha superjet. Pablo arranged my participation in the race under the condition that I was to race in Pro Open class. This was a great experience because the races were long 8 lap motos with buoys close to shore. Not to mention the, “Lomond” start which was a 10 yard sprint upon the whistle blow to jump onto your ski in the water and go as soon as you could put the lanyard in and get going. I finished 3rd overall after losing the lead when my lanyard got pulled off going around the first turn on the last lap. That was a fun race to be a part of!
As the event came to a close an awards ceremony took place on the beach where the mayor presented the trophies and campaign bottles were given to the victor which were quickly turned into campaign showers. It was a crazy cluster of everyone running around with trophies squeezing into all kinds of different group photos. As the contest came to a close, we accepted an offer from Pablo to extend our stay in Villa Gesell for another two days. Pablo put us up in a new hotel which had a great sea breeze and ocean view to enjoy. We enjoyed the last few days of our trip by walking around town where we spotted tons of the event posters that were all over the place. Rider Cali Dipascua picked us up and took us to go see the really nice beach town of Pinamar. Last, we had a lazy beach day with incredible weather before we took a bus back to the airport of Buenas Aires. Zack and Kristen left back on a flight to the US, Bianca caught her bus to embark on the rest of her 3 week trip to see the rest of her family in Rosario, and I stayed in town for the extra two days before my flight with my friend Mai Adams. I was able to visit all of my friends at their shop Radical Jet ski, and was then taken on a great day trip by boat to visit the country of Uruguay before my flight back to the US.
While I was at the event in Gesell, I was able to communicate with a few riders throughout the weekend with the help of Bianca’s translation. They all have a great outlook on the sport and I am happy to see so much positive movement within the freeride industry coming from Argentina. From the bottom of my heart I cannot thank the great people and riders of Argentina for the most hospitable welcome to their country. Also Harry Puddu and Pablo Wolf, I cannot say enough kind words about those two guys. This was an incredible adventure and I hope to see these guys at JetWaves Brail in October of 2012!
Thanks for your support!