Red Bull event brings top wakeboarders to Tampa in July
TAMPA - In 2008 and 2011, Red Bull had great success luring folks to downtown Tampa for Flugtag, the festive competition that features teams and their homemade "flying machines." Red Bull is returning, but this year's event will spotlight the world's best wakeboarders. Officials on Thursday announced the Red Bull Wake Open international competition will be held July 13-14 in Garrison Channel, in front of the Tampa Convention Center. The event will feature wakeboarders competing in three divisions – cable, boatwater and big air.Admission both days is free. "For the average person, when they ask what wakeboarding is, I explain that it's a cross between snowboarding and water skiing," wakeboarding professional Shane Bonifay said. "I've blown my knee out three times and everybody goes through their share of injuries," Bonifay said. "It's definitely not easy on the body, but it's fun on the mind." The Flugtag weekend events attracted more than 100,000 people to downtown Tampa, and officials say they're hoping for a similar turnout. Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, says he expects the event to have an economic impact of more than $1 million, and visitors to fill about 1,400 hotel rooms that weekend. "We think this is an event that will have a tremendous amount of social and economic impact," he said. NBC (locally on WFLA, News Channel 8) will carry the event as part of the Red Bull Signature Series on July 14 from 1-3 p.m.