Focal Point – Photo Annual
Note: In case you didn’t notice, starting with our Photo Annual issue (Dec/Jan) Garrett Cortese took over the role of Editor for Alliance and began writing the Editor’s Letter at the front of each issue of the magazine. For the previous 13 years that title and page belonged to Bill McCaffray. We might be a bit partial, but we think he did a pretty good job guiding the ship. This is Garrett’s first Editor’s Letter so we figured we’d share it online. He’s changed the page from “Current” to “Focal Point” in a sort of pseudo-homage to his photo background, but also so he can focus the column on one topic/trend within each issue or the sport as a whole. As Garrett notes at the end, there might be a new butt in the seat, but Alliance is going to keep delivering the kickass content you’ve come to expect each and every issue.
The trip that started it all… Swan Lake, Montana – 2004.
“I don’t have a job, I have a lifestyle.” Those are the exact words I jokingly told my mom back in the summer of 2004 when she said I needed to find a real job. I was fresh off a six-week wakeboarding RV trip around the Northwest documenting the region’s up-and-coming riders and feeling like I’d “made it.” The reality was, I had an assignment – not a job – a few extra bucks in my pocket, and wasn’t exactly close to “making it.” Jobs that pay significantly less than the costs of operations are not wise, and this was the point my ever-loving-but-equally-realistic mother was trying to make.
Just out of college though and having been able to produce two stories for Alliance during those six weeks on the road, I was determined to make the lifestyle of wakeboarding I loved so much become a legitimate form of employment. Since the June 1996 day on the Delta when I first rode a wakeboard, I was hooked. I’d grown up water skiing and boating my entire life and loved it, but there was just something about wakeboarding. There were two things in particular I couldn’t get enough of; being on the water with my friends and pouring over new issues of magazines. This time out on the boat with my buddies was the lifestyle we all loved, while the magazines were a representation of the hard-to-believe idea that someone gets paid to do this. Their photos and accompanying stories were a tease of sorts, something tangible – kindling for a teenager’s dreams. I would regularly rip out favorite pictures to put on my wall – my inspiration of possibilities. Lots of kids rip out their favorite photos too (maybe today they screen grab and post to Insta-face-terest), but usually this is in hopes of one day being in a similar photo – living the life of the hero they’ve clipped out. I was a bit different. I didn’t care about being in any photo, I wanted to take that photo. I wanted to be part of the sport and document it with my own eyes. With each issue of each magazine I read, that dream grew and I focused on it. Fast forward nearly 20 years later, here I am fortuitously writing an Editor’s Letter, simultaneously wondering how exactly I got here and where the hell all the time went.
Throughout my career working for Alliance and documenting wakeboarding and wakeskating, my main motivation has been to capture and recreate that feeling of inspiration for others. Intriguing people is good, but inspiring them is powerful. What better way to hopefully deliver inspiration than through the Photo Annual / Rider of the Year issue? In the pages that follow you will find our collection of the best photos from the past 365 days – proving once again that wakeboarding and wakeskating are two of the coolest things to participate in, enjoy, and ultimately be inspired by. You will also read an eye-opening interview with the incomparable Bob Soven. Bob has grown up in the sport of wakeboarding, entertaining almost all who have interacted with him, but his riding and approach to being a pro today will make you appreciate him even more. In a Robert Frost-ian move, he took a path this year that not many others would have taken at this particular point in his career. With strong backing from his sponsors, that decision proved both effective and meaningful. At just 21 Bob is already well aware of how fortunate he is to be a professional wakeboarder and he is doing what he can to spread his skillset and love for the sport to others.
I can’t tell you why I’m so lucky to get to do what I do – to live a lifestyle that I also call a job, but I can tell you I don’t take it for granted. That one long, sunny June day on the Delta almost 20 years ago has literally changed my life forever: friendships, memories, milestones, trips, a career, and a soon-to-be-wife – all because of wakeboarding. No matter your dream – if it is to be on a podium with Bob Soven, in a viral video winching an insane spot, capturing it all through some sort of recording device, or anything in between – our hope with each issue of Alliance is that you too also find fuel and inspiration for it.
With that, I’d like to say cheers to another great year of wakeboarding and wakeskating in 2013, and to an even better 2014. Whether you’ve been reading Alliance since the days of stapled pages and calling rails “sliders,” or you’re just joining the party, we’re happy you’re here. For the past 13 years we’ve sought to bring you the most legitimate content from inside the industry that not only entertains you, but inspires you. I promise our 14th year won’t be any different.
Enjoy the ride,
Nate Perry hitting up a Clear Lake handrail. Photo: Cortese