This year’s WSIA Summit represented many milestones for the association and the water sports industry. Hosted for the 16th time, it was a snowy post-pandemic reunion for friends and colleagues, a debut of the new team at the WSIA, and a time for significant forward progress on committee business.
Before the main event, the Water Sports Foundation (the non-profit educational arm of the WSIA), held their annual Board of Directors meeting. This new addition to the pre-event schedule allowed for more time to discuss the various boating safety initiatives in consideration for US Coast Guard grant funding.
WSF Executive Director Jim Emmons presented on the 41 successfully managed USCG grant projects, worth $9.5MM to date, and the 10 programs currently under management, totaling $1.4MM in value.
By this point, it had been snowing for about 24 hours and the conditions were looking better and better with each passing hour.
Everyone knew that the next dayâ€”the traditional first morning on the mountainâ€”was going to be amazing!
After a grab-n-go breakfast, sponsored by Polk Ultramarine, a big group of attendees gathered at the resort lift for the historic annual group photo. Directly after, our group floods into the lift as it opens, and the event is officially underway with a morning takeover of the ‘Far East’ fresh powder.
As the group heads in for the kickoff lunch, there are at least a few “best morning ever” comments and embellished stories of first-day glory.
Summit officially starts with the Kickoff Lunch, featuring a welcome address from WSIA President, Robert Oswell, as well as opening presentations from the government affairs and operations teams.
From there, attendees break into four different rooms, with committee meetings for Towboats, A.I.S., Equipment, Wake Parks, Camps & Schools, Parasail and Tradeshow. Each of these committee meetings has an independent agenda and provides a report for the WSIA Board of Directors on the following day.
Committee meetings end, and after a short break, attendees reconvene for cocktails, sponsored by Yamaha. After some quality time with old and new friends, the doors open for dinner. Danny Amir welcomes everyone in and the delicious buffet is open ahead of our keynote speaker.
As dinner winds down, Jeff B. Evans begins to detail some of his harrowing stories as a guide, medic, and adventurer. Jeff shared many important lessons like having a sherpa mentality, thinking about your rope line, and how it all ties into servant leadership.
Jeff had the room captivated as he described his experience guiding a blind friend up Mt. Everest, and the myriad life lessons learned from that experience.
After that, attendees made their way down to Sandy’s Pub for some social and networking time, sponsored by Enovation Controls.
Most attendees get back out on the mountain Thursday morning while the Executive Committee and Board of Directors host their semi-annual official meetings.
Everyone regrouped in the ballroom for Brad Fralick and Lee Gatts to go into detail on their Government Affairs progress for the industry, detailing various challenges and initiatives in different states.
They were followed by Josh Reddin and Sawyer Frank from Elastic, who presented virtually to demo their innovative digital platform for wholesale B2B and trade shows.
Next attendees divided up to focus on growing participation in water sports and to learn more about the new Wake Responsibly Dealer Toolkit.
That night, we all meet again for a cocktail reception sponsored by GatorStep before heading into the ballroom one last time for a banquet dinner sponsored by Roswell Marine.
After another delicious dinner, we begin the night’s program with a surprise appearance by Grant Korgan and a presentation on the good work of Operation Wakesurf. Dano took to the microphone for a quick live-auction, raising several thousand dollars for the organization.
We then rolled right into the annual Leadership Awards and Innovative Product Awards, honoring the best companies, people and products in the water sports industry.
The event came to a close with the presentation of the “Larry Meddock” Award to none other than WSIA Ambassador and #PassTheHandle legend, Robby Maschhaupt.
Out of this event, the WSIA has a fresh list of member resources to update and a series of great projects to complete this year. Please plan on joining us back at the Resort at Squaw Creek on March 1-2 for Summit 2023!