For the third and final event of the three-day Red Bull Wake Open, riders took to the entire Unit park setup in Tampa Bay and put on one hell of show for the thousands of spectators who were there, and the hundreds of thousands more who were watching from home on NBC. Despite being tired (and in a lot of cases beat up from big crashes) after two solid days of competition, every rider put it all on the line to take home the title of Wake Park champ.
After an intense semi-final round, the final came down to four of the best wake park riders in the world: Nico Von Lerchenfeld, Raph Derome, Dominik Hernier, and Daniel Grant. These riders not only represent the future of park riding, but they also represent the amazing growth wakeboarding has experienced around the globe in the last decade. Lerchenfeld is from Germany, Derome is from Quebec, Canada, Hernier is from Austria, and Grant is from Thailand.
Each of the riders threw down their best lines and the riding was amazingly progressive and insane to watch. Each rider’s control and precision throughout the park was on display for the world, and it was easy to see why the four of them were in the finals. After taking a 3rd place finish behind the boat and a 1st place at big air, Raph was a lock to win the overall title by just making the final of the park event, but that didn’t mean he was going to go easy. He continued to push himself and his fellow riders with his smooth half cab double mute rolls and heelside 1080s. That drive pushed Raph back to the top of the podium, proving to everybody there and watching, that he is a force to be reckoned with in all aspects of wakeboarding. Given how young he is, that drive is going to push him to some pretty incredible places in the future.