Top o’ the morning at VWC (photo: Mathis)

If the Photo Annual isn’t the biggest issue of the year then I don’t know what is. The best photography from the last rotation around the sun jam packed into one issue, what’s not to love? In years past, I’ve always been clamoring to get my hands on it as soon as I could to see the visuals that got me stoked to go ride, even in December. Something about seeing amazing photography sets off a trigger in our brains that makes us want to strap in. So step inside and see some of our favorite shots from the past year of 2017…

So if you’re a photo nerd like myself, then you probably flip through these pages thinking, “What did they use to get this shot?” Well, fear not because we not only highlight the athlete and photographer but the equipment used as well. We don’t dive into all the settings (ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc) because that would clutter the image too much but we give you a good point of reference with the camera body and lens. Maybe that’ll inspire you to upgrade your equipment, maybe not. Either way, we think it gives a little more perspective about the photograph and we like that.

Well, let’s get to the goodness. The photos you’ll see in the following pages are what we have stock piled over the past year. They all could have been ran as soon as we got them but we felt that they were special and deserving of a place here in the Photo Annual. There’s some seasoned riders in there, some up-and-comers, and the same can be said for the photographers. I love being able to feature new faces/photographers because that’s what drives our sport. The newly refreshed passion of the next generation is what keeps things moving. And that’s what life’s all about, moving forward.

Our sport has some of the most passionate individuals I’ve ever been able know and work with. People willing to get up at the crack of dawn to go out and get one shot or stay up through the night just for the love of the game. Riders that try that one elusive trick over and over and over again until they nail it or the photographers/videographers that edit day in, day out to make that one shot look just right, the passion and drive that people have for the water never ceases to amaze me. That’s what the sport needs so if you’re reading this, think about that the next time you hit the snooze button on that alarm. Get up and make some magic happen!

Speaking of magic, some of the biggest moves we’ve ever seen have gone down this past year. With tricks like Felix Georgii’s one-footer mute 540 over the Munich Mash mega ramp, Mike Dowdy’s indy double roll to blind, Alex Graydon’s back roll bridge tap, and plenty more insane tricks, 2017 was one for the ages. But one kid sent it harder than the rest and that’s why he is our 2017 Alliance Rider of the Year. And that rider is…drum roll please…Mr. Steel Lafferty! Not only did he stick some of the most insane tricks wakeboarding has ever seen, he did so when the pressure was on and the cameras were rolling. He also embodies the true spirit of ROTY with his infectious personality and all around good attitude. So if you see him out and about, give him a high five because he definitely deserves it. Congrats again Steel!

So there you have it, as 2018 is just beginning, take some time to reflect on the epicness that was 2017. Give your eyeballs a treat, enjoy the photos, and get out and shred when you can! Remember, keep things moving forward and keep having fun out on the water.

Stay weird,

Jeff