Terry Bailey not adhering to the rules (photo: Mathis)

Sitting down to piece together the Photo Annual, I can’t help but get lost in all the amazing photos that have been submitted over the last year. With so many talented riders being shot by so many talented photographers all over the world, I wish I had more room to showcase them all … but that’s what makes this issue so great — these photos are the best of the best. In these days of instant gratification, keeping select images under wraps is increasingly difficult. Antsy photographers and riders post photos left and right making it tricky to stay ahead of the curve. When they hold out though, it’s more than worth it. It’s necessary these days to stay relevant and further careers but more often than not, a social post is forgotten about the next day. We don’t like the sound of that at all. We understand the time and effort that goes in to making these images a reality and we want to help them live on longer than their Insta-life.

The digital world has opened up the opportunity for many more eyeballs to view our sport than ever before and it has grown exponentially because of it. Content is being created and pushed out more than ever by the actual riders. Complacency is almost a thing of the past as riders are taking the initiative to get out there and stack clips, day in and day out. I really enjoy seeing the rider-created content because they know what it takes to make our sport look good. Riding is all about creativity and when you get a rider with a unique style and a photographer/videographer with a fresh take, magic can happen. No, let me correct that — passion can happen. That’s what fuels us to do the things we do and without it our sport (or any sport for that matter) wouldn’t exist. This passion is no better personified than through the riders and the ones that capture it. Without the riders who push the limits of what can be done on a board and without the creative eyes that are there to ask for “just one more”, we wouldn’t be where we are today. So thank you to everyone out there that wakes up at the crack of dawn to carve perfect glass, everyone who stays out past sunset to get that last light, and everyone in between. We thank you and wakeboarding thanks you.

Not only is this issue chock full of the best photos we can find, it also crowns the 2018 Alliance Rider of the Year. This one’s not really a shock if you’ve been keeping up over the past year. Guenther Oka has not only been on the forefront of progression but has earned tons of coverage in every possible outlet available. Magazine covers, insane edits, winning contest after contest, grabbing his first X Games gold medal, traveling all over the world to spread the stoke … the list goes on! Watching him go from a little grom to the rider he is today has been nothing short of surreal. He looks at riding differently than his peers and makes sure that every grab, press, and poke are legit. The future is definitely looking bright for him. Congrats Guenther! Keep pushing!

Looking back at 2018, there were so many new experiences, new people and new places that I was lucky enough to have encountered. Going through the photos from 2018, we all get to revisit some of the amazing moments that were created by the best athletes and best photographers in the world. Take your time with this issue and look forward to the memories we will all create on the water together in the season ahead.

Stay weird,