2012 Rider of the Year – Raphael Derome
by Garrett Cortese


Editor’s Note: Leading up to the announcement of the 2015 Rider of the Year we are re-releasing pieces of each of the past 14 ROTY articles from the magazine. Raph took over the collective respect and admiration of the sport in 2012 and proved that he was the best all-around ride on the planet.


Every generation of professional wakeboarders and wakeskaters seems to have one or two guys who really stand out. These riders have a vision that is a bit different from the masses and they push harder to see it through. It’s not that they’re turning left when everybody else is turning right, it’s just that they took that right turn well ahead of everybody else. We believe that many of our past Riders of the Year are some of those guys. In 2012 it was pretty easy to see who took that right turn first, because he took it pretty early on in the year in pretty dramatic fashion and never looked back. Raph Derome didn’t just lead the pack or set a new trend this year, he single handedly grabbed the attention of every pro rider and the entire wakeboarding industry and made them all rethink what it means to be a professional in this sport.

There are a lot of things one could point to about Raph’s riding that make him stand out from his peers, but the overriding argument is that he is incredibly good at everything, so his riding automatically stands out. To top it off, Raph is one of the most focused and self-critical riders you will ever meet. He is never content with something he has done. He is consistently thinking about how to do it better, or how to do something new, or how to push things even farther. Raph’s mind never seems to rest, leaving the rest of the riders trying to figure out how to keep up. While other pros are flying to Vegas for mega parties, perfecting their after-hours skills downtown, doing the permanent vacation thing, or looking back at what they’ve done with satisfaction, Raph is forging ahead more focused than ever. He has a vision and he knows exactly what he wants to do to get there. We at Alliance aren’t sure where that vision will lead, but we’re excited as can be to help see it through and to name Raph the Alliance 2012 Rider of the Year.