Sunday, June 25, 2000

Winning only part of surfers' fun

60 ride the waves in body-boarding tournament at Kings Island

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The surf was up at Paramount's Kings Island on Saturday as more than 60 big kahunas and beach boy wannabes hung ten in the 2000 Hawaii Tropic Open.

(Luis Sanchez photo)
| ZOOM |
        The body-boarding tournament, sponsored by Hawaiian Tropic, kicked off 12:30 p.m. on Wipe Out Beach within the WaterWorks water park. The event featured competitors ages 5 to 65 from as far away as Pennsylvania and Georgia.

        Ron Zambarrano, 33, of Chillicothe thought his surfing days were over when he moved from Hawaii to Ohio six years ago. But then he learned about Wipe Out Beach, the only surf wave generator of its kind in the Midwest.

        “Somebody told me two years ago that there was surfing at Kings Island and my first reaction was "no way,'” said Mr. Zambarrano, who has been surfing since the 1980s. “Then when I actually saw it, my jaw just dropped.”

        Built in 1998, the $1 million Flow Rider at Wipe Out Beach enables riders to “surf” on body boards. Flow Rider pumps 75,000 gallons at high velocity and forces a 3-inch sheet of water continuously over a contoured surface shaped like a wave. Surfers slide off a ramp, either kneeling or belly-down on the boards, into the water.

        The surfers competed in a variety of divisions, including drop knee; juniors (17 and under); men (18 and older); open; women (all ages); and senior (40 and older).

        Contestants were judged on radical maneuvers, using the entire wave, variety and difficulty of move, and their ability to stay on the wave for 40 seconds.

        Plaques and 2001 season passes were awarded to division winners.

        “It is a hard contest to judge because everybody is kind of similar skill-wise,” said Jim Fiene of Fairborn, one of three judges of the competition.

        William Thole, 38, of Mount Healthy participated in his third Hawaiian Tropic Open. Last year, he qualified for the tournament national championships. On Saturday, he was among several division winners.

        “It's amazing to see how far many of these guys participating today have come since a few years ago,” Mr. Thole said.

        But some competitors weren't quite as fortunate as Mr. Thole. Ed Hoy, 46, of Pittsburgh wiped out hard.

        “I stunk out there, but it was worth it,” Mr. Hoy said with a smile while nursing his sore left shoulder. “And I'll do it again because it's fun and challenging.”

        “There's a good chance that every time you step out there you'll get washed out,” Mr. Thole said. “But half the fun is trying a new maneuver and getting totally wiped out.”


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