This year's Great Outdoors Festival (GO Fest) is counting on everything being just beachy.
In a year with a lighter competitive schedule than in 2015, the beach volleyball tournament on May 22 at Rainbow Park is set to be one of the marquee events and promises to kick off an exciting 2016 season for the Whistler Outdoor Volleyball Association (WOVA).
Tournament organizer and WOVA founder Scott Rogers said registration tends to be fairly last minute, and after some early concerns last year, it paid off for those who came out.
"We'll see what the weather is day-of. Last year, it was pretty nasty first thing in the morning, but I was pretty impressed that everybody that said they were going to come out still did. Then the weather broke and we had a great day," he said. "My experience with Whistler athletes, particularly when it pertains to beach volleyball, is that for tournaments they generally prefer hot and sunny. It usually has a correlation with local attendance, so fingers crossed."
The tournament can accommodate 32 players and will set up in a king/queen of the beach format where every player is randomly assigned a new partner each set. The player with the greatest positive differential at the end of the day is crowned the winner. Registration is $20 per player.
The tournament marks the start to the WOVA season, which will also see a mixed doubles tournament on July 10. Rogers is also excited about the addition of a women's doubles tournament with a $1,000 purse on Aug. 20 and 21.
"We've got a large cash purse that's dedicated to that already that should help to draw competitive players from the Lower Mainland, who are a very tight-knit group," he said.
As well, registration for the adult league takes place May 24 at the Longhorn Saloon. Returning teams can register from 6 to 8 p.m. while new teams can sign up for the remaining spots from 8 to 10 p.m. Rogers expects to get to the limit of 60 teams once again this year. The season runs from June 6 to Sept. 2 and registration is $75 per player.
Rogers, who coaches the Whistler Secondary School seniors, also hopes to see plenty of those students out at kids camps this summer, which will run from July 4 to 8 and Aug. 8 to 12. The cost is $150 per week.
"I hope to get their feet into the sand so that they can learn and hopefully develop a passion for the beach side as well," he said. "A sand court is much more challenging for an athlete moving around and jumping does require a greater level of athletic ability. It's fantastic for court athletes because when they move back indoors, they're faster, stronger and can jump higher, so their games usually take notable strides forward."
For more information on WOVA's programming, visit www.wova.ca.
Meanwhile, the GO Fest tennis tournament is open to all Tennis BC members. The open men's and women's singles winners will split a combined $1,000. Clinics are also slated for Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on all GO Fest events, visit www.greatoutdoorsfest.com.