ABU DHABI // Wakestock kicked off on the Corniche yesterday, promising to give wakeboarding fans a glimpse of some of the sport's elite athletes - and the chance to take in some rocking musical acts. The three-day festival, part of the 2010 Wakeboard World Series, will see 16 professional wakeboarders compete for a US$50,000 (Dh180,000) prize, among them the reigning champion, the American Phillip Soven.
The Lebanese singer Carole Samaha was due to get things rolling last night, followed by a set by the Radio One DJ Danny Neville. A straight-line cable tow system powered by an electric motor will also allow fans to try out the sport, which started in California in the 1990s. The more experienced among them can learn new skills, such as the backflip or front roll. One of the first to use the cable yesterday was Heather McDonald, 23, from Cornwall, England, who was visiting her family. "It's harder than I thought," she said. "I have surfed and skateboarded but this is a different kind of feeling with your feet hooked onto the board like snowboarding. It's really fun though."
Families crowded around to watch would-be wakeboarders. Adam Mills, 31, from London, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for eight months, said: "I'll definitely come back and give this a go this weekend with my friends. "It's good to have things like this. Living in London, you'd never get to try out something like this so I guess that's a benefit to living by the beach." Tonight's headline act is the British indie band Maximo Park. The event ends tomorrow with an appearance by the hip-hop act De La Soul.