As we started work on the Rider of the Year article with Raph Derome for the Dec/Jan issue of Alliance, we knew we needed a little something extra. Something different that would put a stamp on both Raph’s year and the article itself. Back in September in our booth at Surf Expo, Raph unveiled his most recent web video edit and in a matter of minutes made the majority of the industry drop their jaws. The video was a collection of new rail ideas, winch spots, and boat riding — all with Raph’s signature style. If you’ve been under a rock you can view it here. Fortunately we had photos from everything Raph did in that video, but we didn’t want the ROTY article to just be a photographic repeat of the clips that had already been seen by the world.
Being that the ROTY award comes out at the end of the year, timing was of the essence and the seasons were not on our side. It was the last week of September and Raph informed us that it was already starting to snow around his home outside Montreal. Shooting something up there wasn’t going to be an option. We needed a last minute idea, with less than a minute to do it. A place where Raph could do something unique that would be cool enough for the ROTY article. And a place where it wasn’t snowing. “I’ve always thought it would be cool to go to Shredtown,” he said.
Enter the three riders who have become the epitome of doing unique things on their own and making it look awesome. Let’s face it, the Shredtown guys and Raph have garnered much attention and become well respected for their creativity with rail building, winching, and shredding. With their System 2.0 on a private pond, the Shredtown guys had the perfect spot to help Raph get something done for his ROTY article. I called Andrew Adams to see if they were around and interested in helping. Of course, they were more than down. Tickets were literally bought in one evening and less than 12 hours later flights were boarded for Texas.
When we got to Texas we grabbed some lunch and started talking ideas and logistics. The guys were stoked to get to work because they’d never had the chance to ride together before, but they knew time was limited. We literally had one day to build something and a day and a half to ride it. Andrew and Chris (Davis was out of town, unfortunately) gave us a rundown of what we could possibly do. We talked about the two land gaps on their property, or maybe even hitting a winch spot. But we kept coming back to the wooden shipping pallets they had just used in super creative web edit of their own. The guys eventually decided on making a wall ride out of the pallets and using their existing kicker from filming Lipsmack to boot Raph up onto it.
After a day of building the behemoth of a wall ride was complete: comprised of 20 pallets, making it about 14 feet high and 18 feet long. The guys put it and the kicker into place and anchored it all in to make sure it was sturdy. In order to make the wall ride it bit more unique, the guys decided to offset the pallets so they made a vertical staircase of sorts. The effect looked cool in photos, but where it really made a difference is in the video where you can hear Raph “firecracker” across them.
We wanted to get a sequence of Raph hitting it that would be different than just shooting it with one camera looking at the wall. Thanks to the help of GoPro we were able to do just that. We set up 9 different GoPro cameras in various spots, from the kicker, to a floating dock placed in front of the wall, to the wall itself. Using the GoPro remote we fired them off on burst photo mode and then pulled a single photo from each camera to make a sequence for the ROTY article in the magazine.
Watching Raph hit the wall was pretty insane. The thing was high and you could tell dropping from the top of it back to the water was definitely not easy on the knees. But he kept going. And going. And (insert Energizer Bunny quote here). The kid really is a ridiculously good wakeboarder. While Chris drove the System 2.0, Andrew shot video, and I shot still photos, it seemed like we would look at each other after each of Raph’s hits and just shake our heads in disbelief. Front boards, back lips, 270 transfers out… it didn’t matter to Raph. He would just spring off the kicker and do whatever he wanted on the wall ride and make it look way, way easier than it really was.
This was easily one of the cooler projects I’ve ever been a part of. It was really refreshing and fun to see guys like Raph, Chris, and Andrew get together, work on something like this, and make it all happen in such a short amount of time. Time was the only downside — we didn’t get a lot and subsequently didn’t get to ride/shoot too much. But the wall is still anchored out there in Shredtown, so who knows what could happen with it in the future. We at Alliance were stoked to see Raph and the Shredtown boys get together and work on something and we have a feeling this little project could lead to some pretty interesting collaborations in the future. Obviously a big thanks goes out to Andrew and Chris for their help, hospitality, and sacrifice to make this happen. And of course, congrats to Raph for being the 2012 Alliance Rider of the Year.