Brian Grubb photographed by Rodrigo Donoso.
-Words by Silas Thurman from issue 12.7
Wakeskating is more on track this year than I could have ever envisioned. The Wakeskate Tour is doing exactly what it should and the world is embracing it. Alliance is covering more and more wakeskating, and not because photos just showed up on their doorstep, but because the sport and the riding that defines it have fully arrived. In looking at where we’re at right now it is only appropriate to look back at where we’ve come from.
Years ago Cassette started something that would forever change wakeskating. A film called Sfumato came out and showed what was possible in the sport. Thomas Horrell was a huge reason for why I cut down an old wakeboard and tried riding without bindings. I was a newbie and far from understanding everything about a wakeskate, but when Thomas first put out the wood flat deck everything started making sense.
Having watched wakeskating grow to the point where I now co-own and operate my own wakeskate company and help run a tour of legitimate events, I can’t help but think about the work Thomas and other early embracers put in to help it grow. Thomas may have been paving the road for the future of wakeskating, but he was paving a road that wouldn’t see very much traffic for a long time. Even now that road probably only has two lanes and you probably don’t have to worry too much about passing. That road still has a speed limit of 45 MPH. But it feels like one of those roads that is going to open up at any minute… more lanes, more passing, more speed. To put it simply Thomas was an anomaly, way ahead of his time, as were those he surrounded himself with, the products they produced, and the way they approached the sport.
Today it’s great to see the new kids getting involved and heading down the road paved by guys like Thomas – while also adding new directions of their own. You have your Pasturas, Horans, and Nick Taylors who are now household names in wakeskating, each leaving their own unique mark while helping push the sport further and further. There is another name though that really comes to mind for me in all this reflection: Brian Grubb. There are only a few people left in professional wakeskating who were riding when Thomas was riding. Other than Grubb there are really none left that are still actively competing and doing well. If anyone claims to love wakeskating I guarantee Brian loves it more than you. He lives it and is one of the best. Grubb can go to any boat event and win. Then the following week show up at The Wakeskate Tour and compete against 50 other riders and qualify into the top 18, proving he’s one of the best that wakeskating has ever seen. He, just as Thomas did, works for wakeskating and still works for wakeskating’s future. There are a lot of people right now really pushing to make wakeskating visible to the world and make wakeskating a legitimate action sport and Brian Grubb is one of them. It’s easy for riders to get caught up in the mix after being a professional for a while and just sit back and enjoy the ride — start to party a lot and lose track of what they’re involved in and for what purpose. Because what they’re involved in is getting paid to do what most can only call a hobby. If you get paid to do what most people do for fun on Saturday you are truly lucky and need to remember that. Brian Grubb has remembered that and embraced it for years.
It’s great to see Grubb’s passion for wakeskating is still what it was ten years ago. At the rate he’s going he’ll be the first wake athlete to closely resemble what Kelley Slater has done in surfing. Sure, he may be getting older, but he just keeps getting better, which is not normal. Normal would be hanging on to a thread hoping your sponsors don’t notice you’ve been skipping contests to avoid bad results and your shots in the mags have been slowly depleting. No, Grubb, like Thomas, is an anomaly. He seeks out every event and more often than not does well or wins. The only time I’ve heard Brian bummed about a wakeskating event was when I told him Stop 4 of The Wakeskate Tour had to fall on Wakestock Canada. Not that we planned it this way, but it’s hard to go the whole year without doubling up a little. If it were possible he would be at every wakeskate event he could.
t’s easy to get excited about new faces in the sport — Nick Robinson is one that comes to mind for me, but you have to remember guys like Thomas and you have to respect a guy like Grubb who continues to push wakeskating in all facets. Wakeskating’s road continues to be long and slow, but it’s nice to see that Brian Grubb is still on it and rarely takes pit stops.