Day two of surf Expo ’08 has come and gone. The highlight of the day for wakeskaters was definitely the Fun Boots! Teaser premiere in the Alliance booth. Some technical difficulties hooking up the DVD player (we’re so high tech at Alliance everything is just pre-programmed on Apple TV) gave enough time for a large crowd to gather. There were plenty of riders, such as Reed Hansen, Ben Horan, Clint Tompkins and Matt Hooker in attendance, but noticeably missing were Fun Boots! Stars Stu Shinn, Nick Taylor and Travis Doran. Apparently the boys were having a little too much fun to make it to expo before four. Either way, it was the largest crowd the Alliance booth saw all day, and Fun Boots! looks to be, well, fun! Be sure to check out the teaser yourself in our video section.
In addition to attempting to organize the premiere, I did my best to check out more of the offerings for 2009. While all the small wakeskate manufacturers were conveniently located around each other, visiting the big guys took a little more exploring. A few major wakeboard companies are dipping more seriously into the wakeskate market, and while I didn’t make it to J-star to check out the “Alliance pro model” wakeskate, I tried to check everything out. Here’s what I found out.
AWS: What’s new for CWB?
Steve Bates: This is actually our first year doing a legitimate wakeskate line. When we decided to go into this a year ago, we just knew we couldn’t go into it without having a name behind it, so we tried to find the goofiest, funniest looking guy we could, and Stu Shinn was the obvious choice. When we picked up Stu, we had a couple design ideas, as did he. We just mixed out ideas and came up with the Onset. We basically took a flat deck feel but added to it. We wanted a bi-level because that’s what Stu wanted, but we didn’t want to deal with bi-levels breaking, so we filled all the gaps with dual density foam. It still gets the kick and the sponginess of a bi-level, but there’s no air in between. We do have three wakeskates in the line though. We have the base skate, which is a very entry level and its something we can sell for $100. It’s for those people who want to try wakeskating, but don’t want to spend a lot of money. It’s very soft and designed to be entry level. Up from that is the Deck, which is a 9-ply flat deck with the 3d foam top. It’s roughly $150-160 and then the Onset is like $250.
What are you most excited about?
Stu, and the Onset. Stu is just God’s gift to a brand. He’s marketable, funny and amazing, and I’m not gay, I just love Stu.
AWS: What’s new for LF?
Scott Leveritt, LF Art Director: Well, for the graphics we did in house, there’s a very colorful 80’s theme with the mod, just kind of going disco. The Signal we we’re kind of going back to a “religious” Liquid Force. Those graphics are on our new compression molded skates. Jamie Lynn, Aaron Reed’s fiancé headed up the Oscrura side of things with Aaron and Danny’s pro models. She worked with those guys very closely. The guys got what they wanted, and we got to play around a little bit in house with our flat skates and our 3d foam skates. Every one at LF had their hand on the faction. The SST has been completely revamped. It’s got a compression molded bottom deck, instead of all wood. Aaron Reed seems to like it, Silas seems to like it, I’ve haven’t ridden it but I’m next. I’m excited about getting on one.
Bryan Dawley, LF Product designer: On the SST we’ve put the screws through the top deck instead of though the bottom, so there’s no hydrodynamic problems. We’re doing composite bottoms on the boards. We also put a subtle raw fade on it, so the board actually rides a little bit lower in the water and won’t get caught up on the lip. The board has a clean bottom on it. Nothing too crazy.
AWS: What’s new for ’09?
Scott Byerly: We have new graphics for the Legacy skate. We’re going to change that in 2010, the actual shape. We’re working on that right now. We have a bi-level now. It’s compression molded with a wood top. I’m riding it, I really like it a lot. We have a mid season wood board with George Daniels’s name on it, so look out for that. That’s pretty much all the wakeskate stuff.
Why did you decide to do a bi level?
I like em. We needed one for a line, People are riding bi levels, flat decks, concave decks, you kind of need everything.
What are you most excited about?
I really like the bi level board a lot, but actually the wood board maybe. George, he deserves it, and is finally getting one. Mid-season though.
AWS: What’s new with Hyperlite for next year?
Brian Grubb: We have just a couple graphic changes on my board this year, because my board sort of came out late ’08. We’ve got a new orange top and bottom graphic on there and we’ve also got a new graphic on the bigger size board, the 114 too. We have two sizes in my board and BT’s board has a new graphic on it. Then we have our wood line of Faction boards.
AWS: Anything exciting coming up?
Brian: We’re working on a new wood deck that’s going to be a mid season release. It will be out around spring time. We just finalizing that and trying to get a graphic going on that. Our wood boards will be really good next year, and we’ve got a couple new shapes in the composite boards too. BT is going to have a new board coming out and hopefully I will too.
AWS; What’s up with O’Brien’s wakeskate line?
Product tester Derek Seaman: This is the first year they are really doing a line. A few years ago they tried a bi-level, but it didn’t really work. This year they’re doing a couple things, but most notably is the Intox. It has the really deep concave, and is a compression-molded board. They’ve actually been working on it for about two years. And then we’ve got a board with smaller kick tails and that’s basically the slider board. They’ve got a wooden concave that also comes in bamboo that’s the basic board, and then the two flat decks.
AWS: What are you most excited about?
Derek: The Intox for sure. It’s the one board I know that’s done and it’s got deep concave. It also has a little raised section on the tail, we haven’t named it yet, but it basically cups your foot really well. A little different feeling but it’s really cool. It feels like you’re on a skateboard.
AWS: What’s new with Ronix?
Reed Hansen: It’s basically the graphic. We’re pretty happy with the board right now. We made the inserts stronger so they never rip out, but the board is basically the same shape as last year. But the graphic is sick.
AWS: Anything exciting in the future of Ronix Wakeskates?
Reed: We’re going to do a lot of exciting stuff in the future, but most board companies keep a shape for two years, so this is the second year on this shape. We just made it stronger, so that’s definitely something to look forward too.