Gunner kicking a method around at dusk behind Massi’s Malibu M235 (photo: Mathis)

Alliance: Yo Gunner! Let’s get right into it … you’ve had a pretty tough go these past few years with injuries but you’ve seemed to keep a pretty positive mindset about it. How have they affected your attitude towards wakeboarding? Have they given you more drive to get back after it or not?

Gunner: Yo buddy! Yeah, the past few years have definitely had their ups and downs. After my first knee injury, it didn’t bother me mentally, too much. It was my first real injury from wakeboarding, and I had all the right people around me that had been through it before helping me keep a positive mindset. The second one hit me pretty hard, though. I was finally feeling super comfortable and things were all starting to come together. So when it happened, I was just super pissed off with wakeboarding, with everything. Wondering if it was still even worth it anymore. Took me a couple weeks to get my shit together; but I realized I’m not gonna be able to do this forever so why not do it while I can. After surgery, everything was moving really, really slowly compared to my first knee injury. Once I got into rehab though, I knew Justin Cobb was going to get me where I needed to be and I was ready to get to work. Now I’m back on the water again and loving it; injuries definitely have made me appreciate my time on the water so much more.

A: You’re a dope rider with a really unique style and an all-around awesome ambassador for the sport, yet O’Brien decided to take you off the roster for this season. Why do you think that is?   

G: I was riding for them for three, going on four years. I was getting good results in events, good media coverage and then I got injured so I didn’t feel like I was in the place to ask for more, which I should have because I had just had my best season. Then when I had a strong comeback, I was still just not really getting anything in return. So I was just over it and decided it was better for me to make a move and start with something fresh.

Sometimes you just have to throw some buckets… (photo: Mathis)

A: Do you have any big plans for this season?

G: At the moment, just have fun and stay healthy (laughs*). That’s my main priority right now. Might do a couple events later in the season just for fun. Also, I started filming a bit after my injury and through some rehab. So I definitely want to put something together with that, showing the recovery process and getting back on the water and back to 100%.

A: If you could snap your fingers and have something about the sport change, what would it be?

G: The main thing I would change is just how a lot of companies out there take advantage of their riders. Not all the companies by any means but I know some do, not just from my experience but knowing a lot of people that have had to deal with that. And the worst thing is being the athlete and not wanting to say the wrong thing and piss somebody off. But that’s how it is, you have to speak for what you want and look after yourself in the end. It’s taken me a long time to learn that. There’s so many rad people in our sport and that’s what has always been my my biggest issue – not standing up for what I feel like I deserve because I don’t want make someone mad.

All style (photo: Mathis)

A: What’s got you stoked on wakeboarding right now?

G: Watching everyone absolutely killing it right now gets me so stoked. It’s crazy seeing how fast everyone is progressing and it’s so sick to be a part of it. It’s so sick to see more kids starting to care more about style rather than just adding 180’s.

A: How do you feel about riders coming up that have never been behind a boat before? Do you think that’s the future or will there always be a place for boat riding?

G: I think it’s sick. Cable parks have made it so much easier for people to get involved in the sport and it’s cool to see how fast kids progress on the cable. Being able to spend $1000 for a year pass at a cable rather than $180k for a boat and gas each time you ride makes it much more accessible. But I also think there’s always going to be a place for boat riding even though the whole wake boat industry is aimed towards wake surfing right now. There’s still a shit ton of riders out there pushing it and progressing boat riding and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. So until then I don’t see boat riding dying out.

A: Anything else on your mind that you just gotta get out?

G: Just want say thanks to everyone who continues to support me!

When injuries knock you down, keep that chin up and hit right back (photo: Mathis)

Check out the July 2018 Mag here!